Harrogate’s rail line has been named as a top priority for electrification, it was revealed today.
The York-Harrogate-Leeds line was named 12 top priority routes in the north of England which should be electrified to grow the regions economy in a report to the Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin.
A cross party task force lead by Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones, presented the findings which have been welcomed after years of campaigning in the town.
Harrogate’s Chamber of Trade and Commerce has campaigned for the route to be electrified for six years.
Chief Executive Brian Dunsby said: “This is absolutely excellent news for everyone concerned, and the result of extensive hard work and campaigning over many years.
“Improving the rail service with electrification will make an enormous difference to Harrogate.
Improving the rail service with electrification will make an enormous difference to Harrogate.Brian Dunsby, Chief executive of the Harrogate Chamber of Trade
“Obviously, this is very good news for local people, but importantly it is also a significant development for the local economy. As a town reliant on visitors, for both business and leisure, we need to have first class public transport services to encourage as many people to come to Harrogate as possible.
“This announcements is the beginning of the process of bringing Harrogate’s rail services into the 21st century. Combined with the new direct services to London, which were announced in November by the new East Coast franchisee, Virgin-Stagecoach, it will make travel to and from Harrogate a much easier, more convenient and more enjoyable experience for everyone.”
The Chamber of Trade worked with Mr Jones, local councils and transport providers on a business case for the Harrogate’s line electrification.
This showed the cost benefit ratio of electrification would be 3.60 to 1, compared to crossrail, the biggest rail investment in the UK currently which has a cost benefit ratio of 1.80 to 1.
Electrifying the line is expected to cost around £93million, and could boost the area’s economy by around £400million.
The number of services would double, journey times would be cut by 15 minutes and an estimated half a million few car journeys would be taken each year if the line were to be electrified.
Harrogate Borough Council has welcomed the announcement.
Coun Rebecca Burnett, the council’s Cabinet Member for Sustainable Transport said: “The progress being made on improving the Leeds-Harrogate-York line is remarkable. We are getting two-hourly services to London with the new East Coast franchise; we will get new carriages, free wi-fi and better services with the new Northern Rail franchise; and now our line has been given top priority status for electrification.
“This is fantastic news as electrification would bring much faster trains, even better rolling stock and even better services, as well as being a catalyst for further investment which will bring benefits to our local economy.”
The proposal to electrify the line is at an ‘advanced stage of consideration’, according to the taskforce’s report which is recommending that six rail routes in Yorkshire should be part of the next investment plan by Network Rail which will cover the five years from 2019.
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