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Brian Dunsby, Harrogate Line Supporters’ group, said:
We have been waiting for this investment for several years after our plans for doubling the actual track throughout were rejected, because there was not sufficient money in the budget to meet Network Rail’s estimate of the potential cost.
The North Yorkshire County Council originally bid for £12.5 million for double-tracking the section between Knaresborough and Cattal in May 2013.
North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) secured £9.6m from the NY LEP and added a further £3m funding from NTCC Car Parking Enforcement surpluses. However this was not sufficient to cover the estimated cost of doubling the track and in January 2020 NYCC said that working with Network Rail and the train operator Northern they had found a solution that allows trains to pass at Poppleton by adjusting the points at each end of the Cattal-Hammerton section.
A spokesperson for NYCC said:
The more cost effective and affordable method of achieving the necessary time savings did not involve providing much extra double tracking.
There are some very short sections of additional double track at Cattal and Hammerton mainly to aid turnout from the points. The main improvement is actually upgrading the token block signalling to more modern technology.
The LEP granted £9.6m for doubling the Harrogate Line from the Local Growth Fund and the balance of up to £3.4m was due to come from the County Council’s Civil Parking Enforcement surplus. However the latest and final estimated cost by Network Rail of the necessary simplified improvements is only £9.854m, leaving a surplus of up to £3.146m .
This surplus is now being allocated to the scheme for capacity improvement at the A1(M)/A59 Junction 47, which includes an extra traffic lane on the eastbound A59 between the Flaxby roundabout and the A1(M) Junction, plus some widening of the slip roads and traffic signals on the nearby A59/A168 junction just to the east of the A(1)M junction.
The total cost of the Junction 47 road works is £7.766million, which was £2.573 over budget. Subject to LEP Board approval this will be covered by the saving on the Harrogate Line project.
Tenders for both projects have been received and it is hoped that contracts will be signed for the Harrogate Line work by 30th April 2020. The Junction 47 roadworks are subject to contract approval by 31 March 2021.
Brian Dunsby added that these long-awaited schemes will certainly be welcomed by both road and rail travellers to the east of Harrogate.