A NEW train service could soon provide a direct link from villages near York to London.

Villagers at Poppleton, Hammerton and Cattal could all be able to travel to the capital without having to change train, under rail operator First's proposed service from Harrogate to London.

First, operating as Hull Trains, has been successful in recent years in running a direct Hull to London service, which stops at Selby. Now, using the Harrogate Trains moniker, First is proposing to run four trains a day each way between Harrogate and London Kings Cross.

The Press understands Harrogate Trains' proposals will be considered by Network Rail for path authorisation within the next month.

If the rail infratructure firm gives the scheme the green light, the new service would begin operations next summer.

Coun Ian Gillies, leader of the Conservatives on City of York Council and a Poppleton resident, said it was good news for the village and the city.

"I welcome the extra services from Poppleton, not only into York, but on into London," he said. "I hope it will encourage more people to use the railway. It's an added bonus that Poppleton and the villages west of York have an opportunity to travel direct."

Mark Leving, managing director of Hull Trains and Harrogate Trains, said about 30 jobs would be created in the area by the new scheme.

"The proposals have been developed very carefully, with attracting new markets to rail travel in mind," he said. "Direct services from London to Harrogate would encourage people to travel by train, when they might have previously never considered it as an option due to the inconvenience of travelling into major cities and the problems of congestion and parking.

"We are very proud of our track record in Hull, East Yorkshire and in the parts of North Yorkshire we already serve because we have created new markets in areas where long distance rail was underdeveloped and neglected for many years.

"There is no doubt that naming the train service after the place in which it originated has been hugely popular and we aim to do the same in Harrogate by naming our trains after this great Yorkshire town."

He said the company was proposing installing a new line at Harrogate Station, so trains could be maintained there, meaning they would not have to be shipped in from distant depots, which sometimes caused delays and cancellations.