THE biggest overhaul of train services in two decades on the premier rail route through Yorkshire was announced today and has been heralded as a key move in helping the region claw its way out of the recession.
Under the massive revamp along the East Coast main line, extra trains have been added between Leeds, York, Doncaster and London, while a new express weekday train will complete the journey from Leeds to the capital in under two hours.
The Yorkshire Post can also exclusively reveal that a direct Sunday return service is to be introduced between Harrogate and London as part of the overhaul, following the announcement of a new Monday to Saturday service last month. It is the first time in 25 years that daily direct links will run between Harrogate and King’s Cross and it seen as vital in preserving the spa town’s conference and tourist economy which brings in millions of visitors every year.
The Tory MP for York Outer, Julian Sturdy, said: “I am delighted by this announcement, not just for York but for the region as a whole it is really important to give us better links to the capital.
“Investment like this is vital for businesses and plays a huge part in the local economy.
“But I would still like to see more investment across Yorkshire.”
The new timetable, which will operate from May 22, will bring more than three million additional seats per year to the route, 19 new services each weekday, an improved frequency and pattern of services, and, it is claimed, faster journeys. A new daily service will also be introduced between Lincoln and London.
But there will be no change to train timetables between London and Hull, Bradford and Skipton.
Today’s announcement goes some way to easing the pain for the region’s transport chiefs. They missed out on much of the Government’s £8bn rail investment programme – largely focused in the South – and a recent announcement by Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said only 650 new carriages to ease congested routes will be delivered by 2014, far fewer than the 1,300 promised by the former Labour government.