Local politicians, business leaders and other stakeholders will be meeting at Harrogate Station at 9.30am on Friday morning to officially launch the next stage of the campaign to electrify the Leeds to York train line.
The line, which passes through Harrogate and Knaresborough has seen a number of improvements over recent years with fast ticketing machines, more services, a direct evening connection from London and improvements to signalling. This has seen number of passengers swell by more than a fifth over the last five years.
The next step, according to local MP Andrew Jones, is to press home the case for electrification to Government by demonstrating the benefits it will bring to the local economy. Mr Jones has worked with local councils, Chambers of Trade and Commerce, East Coast Northern Rail, Metro and Network Rail to prepare a comprehensive business case to present to the Department for Transport.
Mr Jones commented:
It has been great for everybody involved in this project to come together to make the case for improvements to our rail line, and thanks must go to all who have contributed. The Government has embarked on the biggest period of investment in rail since the Victorian era, at the heart of which is the electrification programme. We’ve already had great news for the North with the Transpennine Express service and I want the benefits of electrification for passengers on this line.
Electrification could mean faster trains, twice as many trains per hour plus more early morning and late evening services. It also means upgraded rolling stock replacing the tired diesel trains operating now. I know from my postbag how welcome this dramatic change in our rail services would be to commuters and other rail users.
Electrification improves accessibility to our area. This could lead to significantly increased business and leisure tourism, provide a further boost to our conference trade and help revive our town centres.