What does Harrogate say about new Azuma trains and extra London services
The first gleaming new Azuma train which will revolutionise Harrogate’s rail links with London received a fanfare welcome this week.
LNER are finally delivering what previous train operators tried but failed to achieve and what Harrogate as a town has craved for for so long on the east coast route.
Tuesday morning’s debut of the much-heralded Azuma train was a demonstration run before the launch in earnest of a total of six daily direct services to and from the capital which starts on December 15.
Its huge potential value for Harrogate’s economic interests and its conference trade was met with applause by the invited guests at a VIP event at Harrogate railway station.
East coast rail operator LNER’s managing director David Horne told an assembled audience of Harrogate’s business, hotel and transport community, as well as General Election candidates Andrew Jones (Conservative), the former rail minister, and Judith Rogerson (Lib Dem) that it was a big moment for Harrogate.
How did Harrogate react to the news?
Steve Scarre, president of Harrogate and District Chamber of Commerce
He said: "With regard to the increased LNER services to and from Kings Cross I think this is fantastic news and Brian Dunsby has worked hard on this for a number of years.
"Congratulations need to go to him for his persistence and I don’t think it would have happened without him.
"The increased services will bring people into Harrogate from all over the country helping to improve our economy in all sorts of ways.
"The hospitality trade will certainly benefit and also our fantastic independent retailers and larger outlets will be able to take advantage of the increased footfall.
"The Chamber fully supports the increased LNER services and any other initiatives that will bring visitors into Harrogate, building upon the UCI experience.
"Harrogate is a fantastic place to live, work and visit with it’s unique attractions in both summer and winter.
"We all must work together to spread the word in how we look after our fantastic assets and help to fill our empty shops.
"Other towns have done it like Altringham for example and the Harrogate District Chamber of Commerce is positive and dare I say excited about the future of our town over the coming years. Let’s make it happen together.
Brian Dunsby from Harrogate Line Supporters Group
He said: “There was some concern when the Government relieved the Virgin & Stagecoach of the East Coast franchise last year, but the new LNER team have confirmed their commitment to the Harrogate Line and services are due to begin Sunday, December 15.
Today we celebrate the imminent start of six trains per day each way between Harrogate and London Kings Cross.
“They will be ideal for business travellers, leisure visitors and commuters living and working along the whole East Coast mainline.
“They will improve services for passengers, develop new markets like Harrogate and Lincoln and transform rail travel along the East Coast.
“They will stimulate enhanced business connections between Harrogate and London.
“Congratulations to David Horne and his team at LNER for delivering this tremendous improvement in the quantity and quality of direct services between Harrogate and London Kings Cross.”
Harrogate Convention Centre director Paula Lorimer
She said: “This is an absolute game-changer for us. We know that one of the big attractions to event organisers, when choosing a venue, is transport links. This new service completely opens Harrogate up to visitors from London and the South, who can now easily get direct to our venue and back, with return trains six times a day.
“Our central location in the UK has always been a big selling point for event organisers but these new train services allow us to dramatically build on that offering."
Simon Cotton, managing director of the HRH Group, which includes The Yorkshire Hotel and the White Hart Hotel
He said: "The commitment that LNER has shown Harrogate by increasing this direct service from just one return service to London a day, to six, is nothing short of amazing. It’s like playing in the local village Sunday Cricket League and overnight signing Yorkshire legend Joe Root! Six is my new lucky number.
"The opportunity this provides Harrogate to not only compete with the large regional Conference Cities of Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Glasgow and others, cannot be underestimated.
"But aside from this, it opens up a connection to our capital like never before and all Harrogate businesses can benefit from this with easy direct access to some of the country’s biggest firms.
"We’re seeing more and more that the North is starting to become ‘trendy’ and with major media like the BBC and Channel 4 relocating large parts of their operations up north, I believe there’s no better time to be growing business opportunities with our capital and the south east and I would urge the people of Harrogate to use and support this new service and shout about all the successes I’m confident it’s going to bring."