Harrogate’s inadequate rail service to London may be in line for its biggest boost for decades.
Following train operator LNER’s initial announcement at the Great Northern Conference on Tuesday that services between Harrogate and the capital were to be improved, the Harrogate Advertiser has learned that the aim is to have six direct services each week day.
Harrogate commuters’ hopes for major improvements to their rail service have been dashed at almost regular intervals in the last 20 years by a series of false dawns.
But the town’s MP Andrew Jones says he’s hopeful this time there will be a genuine “step change” for the town.
Andrew Jones MP said: “It is very much work in progress but it is looking good. If it happens, it will be a step change in the service.
“It will be very good news for passengers and Harrogate as a whole.”
At the moment, there is only one direct service a day from Harrogate to London.
Most people making the Harrogate-London journey or vice-a-versa are forced to change at Leeds or York station.
The one train from Harrogate to King’s Cross station which is direct does not depart until 7.34am, meaning that commuters do not arrive in the capital after the three-hour journey until as late as 10.35am.
The knock-on effect on tourism and the conference trade for Harrogate has been condemned as substantial in the past.
As Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport responsible for the railways, the town’s MP is closely involved with the project to change this state of affairs.
Talks are currently under way with a large array of relevant organisations, including Network Rail and the rail operators, to work on the details and the costs.
Mr Jones said: “We are working flat out. It’s not 100 per cent yet. Nothing is absolutely nailed on.
“The success of the project depends on a number of things and the earliest we will know for certain is likely to be June.
“But this enhanced timetable for Harrogate would make a significant difference not only for passengers but for the town’s economy.”
Major changes to the rail timetables can only take place twice a year.
In the case of the Harrogate-London service, the aim is to introduce the changes from this December.