Harrogate's exciting transport future to be set out at meeting tonight

Sir Richard Branson unveils the Virgin Azuma  the first of Virgin Trains new fleet of trains which is set to revolutionise travel on the East Coast from 2018
Sir Richard Branson unveils the Virgin Azuma the first of Virgin Trains new fleet of trains which is set to revolutionise travel on the East Coast from 2018

Harrogate’s exciting future of road, rail and air transport will be highlighted by key figures at a meeting of the Chamber of Commerce on Monday.

Rail transport is set to be transformed across the district over the coming years with new services to London, York and Leeds all promised.

Virgin Trains East Coast announced in November 2014 that it would be running six additional direct daily services to London from 2019.

This was followed by Arriva’s announcement one year later that they would be investing more than £1billion on the Northern franchise over the next three years.

Arriva’s promise included four daytime trains per hour each way to Leeds with the end of the dreaded Pacer trains also highlighted with a commitment to new and refurbished rolling stock.

Paul Barnfield, regional director for Northern Rail will be detailing these new features and services, as well as improvements to Harrogate station and car parking at Monday’s meeting.

Suzanne Donnelly, commercial director for Virgin Trains East Coast will then provide added information on the extra Harrogate to London services as well as special lines to the Christmas Market.

Coun Don Mackenzie, cabinet member for Highways, said that Harrogate had plenty to look forward to in terms of transport over the next few years.

He said: “There is a great deal going to be happening in terms of rail services in the future. Harrogate has unfortunately been neglected in this area as far as these services are concerned over the years.

“I recall working with Brian Dunsby when he was chief executive of the Chamber. We went to London to speak to East Coast and persuaded them to bring daily direct services to Harrogate.

“Now we have the promise of many more in the future. It’s excellent news for Harrogate and they will be here from 2019.

“We are also going to spend £13m twin tracking the Knaresborough to York line because much of it is single track. This is essential if we want more frequent and faster services between these stations.”

Coun Mackenzie also highlighted the importance of bus travel across the district, including the 36 bus service, which will also be discussed at Monday’s meeting.

Alex Hornby, CEO of Transdev and Harrogate Bus Company will be addressing the company’s recent projects future plans and investment in buses and technology.

Tony Hallwood from Leeds Bradford Airport will also give updates on developments at the airport including access via road and rail, with the planned parkway station, parking and drop-off facilities, and route developments over the coming year.