HARROGATE LINE - bid for electrification

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NEWS RELEASE - 29/05/13

Bid for reinstatement of double track between Knaresborough & Cattal

On Tuesday 28th May the North Yorkshire County Council Executive approved the recommendation to submit a bid to the NYLTB for funding the double-tracking of the 10km of railway line between Knaresborough and Cattal.  Total value of bid 12.5m.   (NYLTB = North Yorkshire Local Transport Body)

This is a very significant step towards upgrading services on the existing Harrogate to York line which currently suffer from recurring delays due to two sections of single track, where one line was removed in the Beeching era.   Knaresborough to Cattal is the longest section where as a safety measure at each end the driver and the signalman have to hand over a token, which gives a train the authority to occupy the single track.  This enables the signalman to change the double to single line points at each end every time a train passes through the single track section in either direction.  

Reinstating this section of double track will not only save the time taken for this procedure, thus reducing train journey times, it will also reduce the consequential delay that occurs if one train is late, making it impossible for the next train in the other direction to proceed over the single track until the points are changed again.  

There will be less of a problem with just the remaining shorter section of single track between Hammerton and Poppleton, where the line is obstructed by the relatively new road bridge where the A59 goes over the line near Poppleton.  Currently the interaction between the two sections of single track compounds any delay in one direction and affects the train in the other direction

Brian Dunsby, Chief Executive of Harrogate Chamber of Trade & Commerce, leads the Harrogate Line Supporters Group which is bidding for electrifying the whole line between Leeds, Harrogate, Knaresborough and York.  Brian said "this double-tracking is a vital first step in the plans for this busy line. Hopefully it will come ahead of Network Rail's plans for re-signalling this part of the line, as they have recently completed on the Leeds to Harrogate part of the route.  Reinstatement of the double track will also make it possible to build a new Flaxby Moor Parkway Station with a large park and ride site, as part of the planned Flaxby Green Business Park, adjacent to the existing R R Donnelly Print Works." 

Councillor Don Mackenzie, the former Leader of Harrogate Borough Council, is a strong supporter of the bid to upgrade the Harrogate Line.  Following the elections on 2 May, the Leader of NYCC, John Weighell, asked Don to join his Cabinet (the Executive), which Don accepted. This week's meeting was the first he had attended as an Executive Member of the County Council, which is the Transport Authority for this area.  Don expressed his full support for this bid to the Local Transport Body.

Don said "the other short-listed schemes, and indeed almost all the other possible ones, were highways related. This one is clearly not, but the potential economic benefit of the doubling of the track from Knaresborough to Cattal is huge, opening up the possibility of faster and more frequent rail services between Harrogate and the ECML at York. It also represents a necessary improvement to the line prior to electrification.  I am particularly grateful to my colleagues on the Executive for their unanimous support for this bid."

Anyone who wishes to be kept up to date with future developments on the Harrogate Line should send an e-mail to info@harrogateline.org or phone 01423 879208.