NETWORK Rail is spending £16m on making the Harrogate line “more reliable” – meaning more than a day of disruption over the coming weekend.
Works at Horsforth will begin on Saturday and run for 30 hours, with similar inconveniences to follow in the coming months.
The rail service on the Harrogate line has come under fire from commuters in recent years, due to late and cancelled trains, overcrowded carriages and an inadequate evening service.
It is operated by Northern Rail, but – as with all lines around Britain – responsibility for maintaining the track lies with Network Rail.
A spokesman for Network Rail said money was being invested “to improve the reliability of the route by provision of modern signalling between Kirkstall Viaduct and Harrogate station”.
“Engineers will also build a turnback at Horsforth which will allow Northern Rail to run a shuttle service between Harrogate and Leeds in the future,” she added.
Warrick Dent, area manager for Network Rail, said: “The Harrogate line is a real success story and passenger demand is expected to continue to grow.
“This substantial investment is great news for rail passengers as the new equipment will not only be more reliable but will give provision for future increases in line speed and the possibility for increased services.”
Network Rail is also working on a new southern entrance at Leeds station.
The signalling work on the Harrogate line involves the installation of new equipment, structures and bases along the route.
Engineers will also install new track, sleepers and ballast for the new turnback close to Horsforth station. Significant earth and drainage works will be completed on the land, which was purchased from Leeds City Council.
The project is working with Natural England and the Environment Agency. Network Rail says that all vegetation removed will be replaced with wildlife or railway-friendly flora.
“Signalling will be transferred from Horsforth and Rigton signal boxes into Harrogate, increasing efficiencies as these boxes close,” Network Rail added.
There will be further disruptions to the Harrogate line in July, on August 25 and September 1, and from October 27-29.
Changed to the service will be published on the National Rail website.