Alex Sobel MP
Alex Sobel MP

Transport Secretary refuses to commit to electrification of Harrogate to Leeds line, but at least the trains will be cleaned

4 February 2020

The Secretary of State for Transport has dodged questions over the electrification of the Harrogate to Leeds railway line.

During a Transport debate in the House of Commons on the 31 January, Leeds MP, Alex Sobel put a question to Grant Shapps asking him to commit to electrifying the line.

Mr Shapps chose to interpret the question on dirty diesel trains as meaning the trains needed a clean – the trains will now have a deep cleans very soon.There was no response from the Transport Secretary over the question of electrification of the line.

The transcript from the House of Commons

Question by Alex Sobel MP (Leeds North West, Labour)

I thank the Secretary of State for listening to my call last July and bringing Northern Rail back into public ownership from 1 March. When the trains do arrive on the Harrogate line through my constituency, they are dirty diesel trains. Will he commit to electrifying the Harrogate line so that we can have carbon-neutral travel?

Response from Grant Shapps MP, Secretary of State for Transport

On the hon. Gentleman’s specific point, I have asked the operator of last resort to do a deep clean of all the trains from 1 March, and that there should be a proper schedule in place and they are cleaned. It is disgraceful that they should ever be turning up dirty in the first place. There are also new trains coming on to the network. As part of yesterday’s announcement, next year trains will be brought up from elsewhere on to the network as well.

Alex Sobel MP said:

I was grateful for the opportunity to challenge the Secretary of State directly on the quality of service on the Harrogate line. For years, passengers have had to put up with slow and unreliable services which have driven people away from using trains to commute.

The fact that Northern were still running 30-year-old dirty diesel Pacer trains on an unelectrified line exemplifies the lack of investment, not just for the Harrogate line, but for the north in general.

Not withstanding the Secretary of State’s misunderstanding of the term ‘dirty diesel,’ my question highlights an urgent problem for our area.

I hope we can now turn the page on the failure of this privatised franchise.


  1. Asi on the train from York back to harrogate on Sunday 2nd of February it was the dirtiest the seats were ripped bottles all over floor it was a disgusting felt sorry for 6jn cleaner we are paying good money to sit on seats that are disgusting f

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