Work to start on Harrogate to York line infrastructure improvements – enabling the doubling of the frequency of service

17 November 2020

Network Rail has announced three weekends of rail service changes as work to improve reliability and capacity between Poppleton and Knaresborough, which is on the line between York and Leeds, takes place.

The project is an investment of £9.8million and is being funded by North Yorkshire County Council and the York and North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership, with Network Rail carrying out the work.

The project will enable more services to run in the future, as well as creating a more modern and reliable railway for passengers. To do this, Network Rail will carry out various improvements on the route.

Firstly, the signalling system will be upgraded. Currently, the line uses token signalling, a system where a train driver must physically pass an object, known as a token, to a signaller before the train can move forward. This project will modernise the signalling system and remove this process.

There will also be changes to the track layout at Cattal railway station. This will mean trains will be able to travel through the area at 40mph, up from the current speed of 20mph, enabling two trains to arrive in the station at the same time.  Finally, work to install new safety measures at some level crossings on the routes will also take place. This work is to maintain safety once more trains begin running on the route.

Brian L Dunsby, OBE, Harrogate Line Supporters Group, said:

This is good news, work is starting at last on these long awaited infrastructure improvements on the Harrogate-York line!

They should enable a doubling of the frequency of services between York and Knaresborough next year  to a half-hourly service.

Many thanks to all concerned for supporting this investment.

This weekend, Network Rail will also continue work to install a specialist piece of equipment at Harrogate railway station, which will allow trains to move from one piece of track to another. This will help to reduce congestion at the station and provide an improved service for passengers.

To allow all of this work to take place safely, there will be changes to services on the below dates and times.

  • Sunday, 22 November –Northern services are replaced with road transport between Horsforth and York. LNER services between London King’s Cross and Harrogate will start or terminate at Leeds.
  • Saturday, 28 November and Sunday, 29 November – Northern services between Knaresborough and York are replaced by bus services on Saturday, 28 and between Horsforth and York on Sunday, 29.
  • Saturday, 5 December and Sunday, 6 December – The line between Horsforth and York will be closed from 23:30 on Saturday, 5 with bus replacement services in place. On Sunday, 6

Northern services will be replaced by buses between Horsforth and Harrogate/York. LNER services will start or terminate at Leeds

Passengers are strongly urged to check before travelling via National Rail Enquiries or with their train operator. There will also be road closures at the level crossings at both Hammerton and Cattal stations on the above dates, with diversionary routes in place.

Luke Espin, Sponsor for Network Rail, said:

We’re really happy to be working alongside North Yorkshire County Council and the York and North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership on this scheme.

This is a fantastic example of organisations working together to get the best results for the community and we know that improving reliability and capacity between Poppleton and Knaresborough will bring significant benefits for passengers using the route.


North Yorkshire County Councillor Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Access, said:

We are pleased that we are investing in this improvement to the Harrogate line and to be working with Network Rail on this long-awaited scheme which will benefit everybody who uses the route.

When complete, it will significantly enhance the rail infrastructure in the North. The capacity of services as well as their frequency will be increased, making it much more convenient and reliable for passengers using this line.


Tony Baxter, Regional Director at Northern, said:

The engineering work will improve reliability and capacity on a busy and popular route.

We are sorry for any disruption during the improvements and our customers can be assured that both Northern and Network Rail will do everything possible to minimise the impact of the work and deliver alternatives that keep people on the move.

A total of £9.6m was secured by the York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership from the Government’s Local Growth Fund to help fund rail improvements between Harrogate and York.

David Dickson, Chair of the York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership Infrastructure and Joint Assets Board, said:

Improving the connectivity between the largest town in our area and York presents significant economic growth opportunities. Funding secured by the LEP helps unlock this potential and adds to another infrastructure investment between Harrogate and York alongside the upgrade of junction 47 of the A1/A59.

Passengers are reminded that they should follow Government guidance and only travel if they need to. People must wear a face covering on public transport, unless they are exempt. Passengers can travel with confidence by washing or sanitising their hands before and after their journey and maintaining their social distance.

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