Harrogate rail services blasted by Lib Dems as 'not fit for the 21st century'
Harrogate's Lib Dem candidate for the next election has used her party's biggest national stage to lambast Harrogate's rail service as "not fit for the 21st century."
Speaking at the Lib Dem's autumn conference in Bournemouth, Judith Rogerson said little had been done to improve the service despite repeated promises.
The Lib Dem Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Harrogate and Knaresborough told delegates on Tuesday: "The Harrogate Line, which runs between Leeds and York, is not fit for the 21st century."The trains are overcrowded and unreliable. "I hear too many stories about not being able to get on the train, or even not being able to get off because it was so crowded."
The Lib Dem PPS, a barrister whose close family live in Knaresborough, said she herself had regular experience of how the York-Harrogate-Leeds line was run and it was time for change.
She said: "A couple of months ago I was at an event for students who were interested in a career in the law. "They were asking me questions about my day job, and one of them asked me what was the most stressful part of my job. "When I said, “Just getting there,” they thought I was joking. But really I wasn’t. "I can't bring myself to count the number of hours I waste each month waiting for delayed trains or sitting in stations having missed a connection. "It’s not just an occasional inconvenience. It is a daily stress that impacts on our personal and professional lives.
She said passengers felt powerless in the current situation and it was time for a radical new approach to make those running the service more accountable.
This would involve substantial investment in the network, simplifying fares and creating a Railway Agency to take away day-to-day decision making from the Department for Transport.
She said: "Last week a performance report by Transport for the North said levels of reliability are lower now than they were a year ago. "And despite repeated promises that they would be phased out, we are still waiting to see the back of the terrible Pacer trains in North Yorkshire."Whatever the Department for Transport is doing at the moment, it isn’t working. "Frankly at the moment, we feel completely powerless in being able to resolve the problems we are facing. "The way we run our railways needs a serious rethink. It’s too expensive and too unreliable."
The Lib Dem PPC said if franchises like Northern Rail weren’t working, they should be taken away.
If the future was to be green, it required a better train service.
She said: "A recent public consultation in Harrogate and Knaresborough overwhelmingly rejected the option of building a relief road. "The public want greener, more sustainable solutions. "A huge part of that is an affordable and reliable system of public transport. That’s why I am asking you to back this motion. "If we knew we could rely on our trains, many more would be able to leave their cars at home and that will benefit us all in the long term."