Harrogate rail passengers 'disappointed but not surprised' by imminent U-turn on HS2 and Northern Powerhouse plans

As some critics claim Northern Powerhouse rail improvements schemes aren’t just being cut back the idea is effectively being cancelled, a Harrogate rail passengers group says it is disappointed but not surprised by the latest turn of events.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 16th November 2021, 4:06 pm
End of the line? With the cancellation of the Yorkshire leg of HS2 expected to be confirmed any day now, it's not so much the prospective loss of a high speed link to London which is causing consternation as the likelihood of a new high speed line between Manchester and Leeds being scuppered, too.
End of the line? With the cancellation of the Yorkshire leg of HS2 expected to be confirmed any day now, it's not so much the prospective loss of a high speed link to London which is causing consternation as the likelihood of a new high speed line between Manchester and Leeds being scuppered, too.

With the cancellation of the Yorkshire leg of HS2 is expected to be confirmed any day now, it's not so much the prospective loss of a high speed link to London which is causing consternation as the likelihood of a new high speed line between Manchester and Leeds being scuppered, too.

Although the expected announcement from a Government committed to 'levelling up' and support for a 'Northern Powerhouse' has no immediate impact on Harrogate passengers who have enjoyed a series of improvements to their service in recent months, it is likely to limit the scope for further improvements here.

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Reacting to news of the predicted watering down of the Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) project for Yorkshire and the North, which was first announced by then Chancellor George Osborne under Prime Minister David Cameron back in 2014, Brian L Dunsby, OBE of Harrogate Line Supporters Group, said: "I am disappointed but not really surprised by the Government’s apparent decision to drop the HS2b eastern leg of the HS2 programme due to all the objections raised in South Yorkshire coupled with the escalating cost of the HS2 scheme.

"I feel that we would do better to concentrate on the Northern Powerhouse rail scheme for a new east-west rail line connecting Liverpool to Hull via Manchester, Bradford and Leeds."

But Mr Dunsby said there were still a lot of reasons to be positive for Harrogate rail passengers.

"Harrogate passengers are now getting the benefit of a two-hourly service to London Kings Cross and in just three week’s time we will see the services between Leeds and York via Harrogate doubled – with the current Leeds-Knaresborough services extended all the way to York every half-hour.

"This east-west connection is I feel more important for Harrogate passengers to London connecting via Leeds than a few minutes saving on the London services by changing at Leeds on to a proposed “new” high speed train.

"The LNER AZUMA services are a massive improvement on the old London trains whilst the use of hybrid electric/diesel services enables them to service Harrogate whilst our line remains non-electrified.

"I also strongly support the Rail Decarb21 campaign led by the Rail Industry Association for electrifying current diesel operated routes such as the Harrogate Line between Leeds and York via Harrogate."