Outdated ‘cattle trucks’ could be becoming a thing of the past for Harrogate commuters after the Chancellor hinted at a future without them.
George Osborne announced in his Autumn Statement on Wednesday that bidders for the Northern Rail franchise will be encouraged to ‘replace the outdated pacer trains with ‘modern, better quality trains.’
Mr Osborne described the current rolling stock as ‘ancient and unpopular’ and have been widely described as ‘cattle trucks’ by many senior officials.
Many Harrogate residents rely on the Northern Rail franchise for their business or leisure commutes with the overcrowding pacer trains the constant subject of heavy criticism.
Harrogate and Knaresborough MP, Andrew Jones, said he often receives complaints about conditions of the rolling stock from customers who ‘creak across’ the district’s line.
He said: “As Vice Chair of the Rail in the North All Party Parliamentary Group I have repeatedly made the point that our local rolling stock was past its best many, many years ago.
“While we have seen extra services, better signalling and more automated ticket facilities, the change most people want is newer rolling stock.”
“I have met the Chancellor and the Secretary of State for Transport to lobby for this change alongside the case for electrification.
“This campaign has been supported by MPs of all parties representing constituencies along the line and shows what can be achieved when we all work together for the good of our communities.”
Harrogate Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Brian Dunsby also expressed his pleasure and relief that the Chancellor has recognised the need to replace the outdated trains.
He said: “They have been called ‘cattle trucks’ by the Deputy PM – or more charitably “Hogwarts Express” by those passengers who suffer the noisy, uncomfortable, slow and often unreliable services on the Harrogate line every day.
“This is just one of the reasons that the Chamber has been campaigning for electrification of the Harrogate line – and with that would come much more modern electric rolling stock, similar to those already running on the Airedale and Wharfedale lines.”
However, while Mr Dunsby welcomed the possibility of improved diesel rolling stock, but said if the rail line is electrified as he expects, the trains will be running on ‘modern rolling stock’.
He said: “We believe that this investment in new trains is itself going to lead to the electrification of the line. It would be illogical to come to seven trains a day each way if it’s not electrified.”