Plea over Harrogate rail timetable changes

Transport campaigners and businesses leaders have pleaded with rail bosses to reconsider a controversial shake-up of service timetables in the region.
Transport campaigners and businesses leaders have pleaded with rail bosses to reconsider a controversial shake-up of service timetables in the region.

Transport campaigners and businesses leaders have pleaded with rail bosses to reconsider a controversial shake-up of service timetables in the region.

In a letter to Northern, the Harrogate Line Supporters Group said the alterations to timetables for local services in Yorkshire, planned from May 2018, will be “totally flawed”.

The group, led by the town’s chamber of commerce transport spokesman Brian Dunsby, claims that extra trains being introduced between Harrogate and Leeds will not serve nearly half of the passengers waiting at stations because they will be “non-stop”.

It follows criticism over the changes by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, which warned Northern could break the terms of its franchise or lead to a worse service for passengers if the planned changes go ahead.

Mr Dunsby said: “We are very sorry that all the support and feedback which our members have given us has not convinced Northern Rail management to provide the services that this district needs.

“The proposed ‘non-stop’ extra trains on the Harrogate Line will not serve around 40 per cent of current users of the line, whilst they will not attract many new users if the trains do not stop to pick them up at five out of the six stations between Harrogate and Leeds.”

Stations that could be set to miss out on extra trains include the busy student-populated Burley Park and Headingley areas of Leeds, and Harrogate’s Weeton, Pannal and Hornbeam Park hubs.

But Northern has said the alterations will see more trains and an increased peak times capacity.

Northern is run by Arriva Rail North, which took over the franchise covering local rail services in Yorkshire last year. The latest criticism of the timetables comes after it was revealed this week that the cost of rail fares in Britain will rise by more than three per cent in January - the biggest increase in the cost of fares since 2013.

A spokesman for Northern said the May 2018 proposed timetable changes are building on “enhancements” already planned to take effect from December this year.

Northern will publish its final timetables later this year following the consultation period.

“Our proposals will see more trains out on the network, faster journeys and increased capacity on key routes during peak hours,” the spokesman said.

“This will all be supported by a fully refurbished fleet and the early stages of the introduction of our new, purpose built, carriages.”