The Transport Secretary this week described the business case to support electrification of the Harrogate railway line as promising, and talks to discuss the bid are believed to be imminent.
MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough Andrew Jones has twice brought up the issue of the need for the ageing line between Leeds and York via Harrogate, Starbeck and Knaresborough to be electrified in the House of Commons.
Harrogate’s case must face up to rival bids from across the north, but Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin’s response to Mr Jones has given hope to those supporting the bid.
Replying to Mr Jones’ request to discuss the plan, Mr McLoughlin said: “We have received a copy of the Business Case for the electrification of the Leeds, Harrogate and York line and indeed it looks promising and I am more than happy to discuss it further.”
The government is currently dealing with requests for cash to upgrade lines across the north.
First Hull Trains is expecting a decision on its bid for the £100m electrification of 70 miles of track between Hull and Selby within weeks.
Mr Jones told the Harrogate Advertiser: “It has taken us many years to get to this point.
“I am meeting with Patrick on a more regular basis, and he has seen the business case.
“I am acutely aware we are having to win our bid from bids all over the country, but our bid is very good.
“Others are not as advanced as ours in terms of the business case.
“I have been encouraged by how ministers have listened.”
It is hoped work will begin on the Harrogate line following the completion of the Northern Hub project, which will see the Manchester to Leeds line electrified by 2018.
Chief Executive of Harrogate Chamber of Trade and Commerce Brian Dunsby, who is leading the Harrogate Line Supporters Group bid, said: “We now have the Secretary of State for Transport making a commitment in the house to meet our MP to discuss the bid.
“I am pleased Andrew is picking up the bid for us and we thank him very much.”