Going backwards: Northern rail cuts under fire in Harrogate as passengers bear the brunt

A Harrogate passengers group has condemned the latest cuts in train operator Northern’s new timetable as ‘unjustified’.

By Graham Chalmers
Thursday, 12th May 2022, 12:23 pm
Updated Thursday, 12th May 2022, 12:27 pm

Northern says the new schedules, which come into effect this Sunday, are designed to deliver better reliability and punctuality for customers.

But the decision to remove key services on the Harrogate line - including early morning trains to Leeds - has been widely criticised.

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The decision to remove key services on the Harrogate line - including early morning trains to Leeds - has been widely criticised.

Brian Dunsby of The Harrogate Line Supporters Group said the changes would be bad for businesses, as well as commuters and travellers.

“We have campaigned vigorously against these ill-timed cuts in services and have suggested alternative reductions without response,” he said.

“The early morning services are vital for business people travelling to London and for leisure travellers trying to get to Heathrow, Gatwick or Manchester for example, as well as being a busy local service to Leeds.

“In the evening there will be no trains from Harrogate to Leeds in the busy period between 8.46 pm and 10.45pm.

“There will be vital business and leisure services which will be lacking from an otherwise twice-hourly timetable for most of the day.”

Train operations were initially slashed back in December 2021 with Northern blaming the Covid pandemic for what it says were considerably lower passenger numbers using the line.

Further cuts were then announced in March - including the crucial early morning connection to the Kings Cross train from Leeds and a series of evening services.

Harrogate and Knaresborough MP, Andrew Jones, has previously written to the head of Northern Rail urging him to return the York -Harrogate - Leeds line back to its previous levels of service.

It is understood that Northern will put on a special early morning bus to replace the 6.07am from Harrogate to Leeds, but that no decision on reinstating it will be made

until December.

A number of Northern services have been removed from the timetables, these include nine separate changes impacting upon travellers in and out of Leeds:

The full list of cancelled services on the York - Harrogate - Leeds line are:

The first train of the day - the 06:07 Harrogate to Leeds service;

The 06:59 Leeds to York - stopping at Hornbeam Park, Harrogate, Starbeck, Knaresborough and Cattal.

The 08:47 York to Leeds - stopping at Hornbeam Park, Harrogate, Starbeck, Knaresborough and Cattal.

The 16:29 Leeds to York - stopping at Hornbeam Park, Harrogate, Starbeck, Knaresborough and Cattal.

The 18:13 York to Leeds - stopping at Hornbeam Park, Harrogate, Starbeck, Knaresborough and Cattal.

The 19:29 Leeds to York - stopping at Hornbeam Park, Harrogate, Starbeck, Knaresborough and Cattal.

The 21:10 York to Leeds - stopping at Hornbeam Park, Harrogate, Starbeck, Knaresborough and Cattal.

The 22:39 Leeds to Harrogate - stopping at Hornbeam Park and Harrogate.

This is in addition to cuts made in December, which included the withdrawal of the limited stop service between Leeds and Harrogate.

Tricia Williams, chief operating officer at Northern said: “The new timetables are designed to deliver a high levels of reliability. We’ve made decisions based on the levels of resource we have available and prioritising the routes with the highest customer demand, and which support the region’s economic growth.

“We fully understand the role we play in keeping people on the move.”