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Campaigners bid for rail line electrification
A BID for £93 million funding has been officially launched as part of a ten year battle to improve rail services on the York, Harrogate and Leeds line.
Politicians, business groups and rail operators have collaborated their efforts to produce a business case highlighting the need for the electrification of the line, which they say will deliver £400 million of economic benefits.
The upgrade and electrification proposal will see train frequency double on the York to Leeds line, which calls at Harrogate and Knaresborough, and has seen a 20 per cent rise in passengers over the last five years.
Journey times will also be cut, with 15 minutes shaved off the York to Leeds route in total, along with plans for more early morning and late evening trains.
The funding bid, which was officially launched at Harrogate train station yesterday, will now be presented to the Department of Transport by Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones, who has worked jointly on the business case with East Coast Northern Rail, Metro, Network Rail, Harrogate Chamber of Trade, York North Yorkshire and East Riding Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), North Yorkshire County Council, City of York Council and Harrogate Borough Council.
Mr Jones said: “This really has been a team effort working to improve a line that has been a success story so far in terms of rapidly growing passenger numbers, but is still one of the worse lines in the country for rolling stock and frequency.
“We have been working on a business case for electrification which shows electric trains are cheaper to buy, cheaper to run, require less work on the track and are easier to make environmentally friendly.
“It is a very compelling case with an investment return ratio of 3.6 to 1, so for every £1 spent it will make £3.6. That is a huge return compared to Cross Rail, currently the biggest rail investment project in the UK costing £16 billion which only has a return ration of 1.8 to 1.
“It also means upgrading rolling stock replacing the tired diesel trains operating now. I know from by postbag how welcome this dramatic change in our rail services would be to commuters and other rail users.”
The line has been the subject of an improvement campaign first spearheaded by the Harrogate Chamber of Commerce ten years ago.
Speaking at the bid launch Brian Dunsby, chief executive of the chamber, said: “Today is a very big step for us. Electrification is so important on this line as it will transform the connectivity of Harrogate.”
LEP chairman Barry Dodd added: “It’s about better connectivity on this line, and better connectivity to key routes across the country.
“With later and earlier trains this is a real opportunity to improve the economy of each town right along this line.”
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