Bid to cut Harrogate rail journeys north 'by 55 minutes'

Journey back to the old days - A new campaign wants to revive the Harrogate-Ripon railway line.
Journey back to the old days - A new campaign wants to revive the Harrogate-Ripon railway line.

Harrogate passengers may be able to look forward to rail journey times to the north being reduced by as much as 55 minutes if the latest attempt to reverse part of the Beeching axe succeeds.

Hopes have been sparked by a new campaign launched by English Regional Transport Association to capitalise on the possible opportunities of the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ movement.

A voluntary group set up, initially in Bedfordshire, the ERTA is calling for the rebuilding of the Harrogate-Ripon-Northallerton rail link.

If the campaign succeeds, it would mean Ripon residents would be able to travel by train to Harrogate for the first time since the line was closed to passengers under the orders of Dr Richard Beeching on March 6, 1967 - and vice a versa.

But, from a Harrogate passengers’ point of view, the reinstatement of the line could be even more substantial.

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Dr Adrian Morgan, who has fought for the route to be opened for 30 years, said such a change would mean Harrogate passengers could travel north without having to change at York.

As someone who founded the Ripon Railway Reinstatement Association in 1987, fought to save the Settle-Carlisle line and is currently the chair of Leeds Northern Rail Reinstatement Group, he believes it would be a major step forward.

Dr Morgan said: “Re-opening would knock 55 minutes off the current journey time from Harrogate to the northeast and Scotland. This would probably be without a change of train, as through-trains will happen again in Harrogate instead of having to travel via York and change trains there.”

The idea is also being supported by the Campaign for Better Transport, a UK-wide advocacy group which promotes better bus and rail services. But having lost several such battles over the same issue in the past, Dr Morgan also struck a note of caution over the air of optimism.

Dr Morgan said: “There is a general need to increase the number of railheads, and railhead car parks and capacity, by reinstating city region commuter rail routes to town and cities which lost their rail services in the Beeching era. But the real spur will be if the A61 road from Ripon to Harrogate becomes gridlocked in future.”

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