LEP Column: Potential rail bidders should deliver more for the region

These are exciting times for Scarborough, with new industry, new jobs and new attractions in development.

Rail thing: Scarborough train station serves 900,000 people a year.

With rail franchises out to tender, I am calling on potential bidders to look at what is happening here and deliver more, better trains linking Scarborough to York, Leeds and beyond.

For over 400 years people from across Yorkshire and the UK have been visiting Scarborough. This favoured Victorian town has beautiful beaches, a lively atmosphere and is on the cusp of a once in a generation growth opportunity. It now needs transport links to support this.

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Proposals for a new £1bn potash mine and an offshore wind farm the size of North Yorkshire, off the Scarborough coast, will bring thousands of good quality jobs to the area.

With a new water park, aiming to attract 500,000 visitors per year, and Flamingo Land who plan to create a new tourist attraction in the town, our long-held tourist offer will continue to attract more people to the area.

The recent announcement of a brand new university campus and a University Technical College focussed on advanced engineering skills, means Scarborough and the surrounding areas are set to create more jobs, more opportunities and attract more visitors on an unprecedented scale.

With that in mind, it brings me to my role as the transport lead on the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Enterprise Partnership’s board.

With an improved businesses, job and tourism offer, there will inevitably be more people visiting the town and transport links must reflect this.

And, we are making progress.

Business and Local Authorities have long lobbied for improvements to the A64, and the Department for Transport has recently announced up to £250m in funding to improve this major trunk road.

Rail North, which brings together the 29 transport authorities in the North, has set out its long-term strategy to deliver more, better trains, increasing capacity and better connecting the North of England.

The announcements last week on electrification are just one part of that. Having already committed over £10m, in partnership with North Yorkshire County Council, to improve the Harrogate line, we welcomed the announcement this week that it is a priority for electrification.

With service improvements on top, people will soon be able to get a direct train to London. This is a promising step forward and will certainly support businesses who have clients or suppliers in the South East.

In addition, electrification of the railway line between Northallerton and Middlesborough will also be a priority.

The LEP has committed major investment to deliver new houses, jobs and employment land in Northallerton, and the improved rail services in this area will only accelerate this growth.

Services between York and Hull and Skipton and Lancaster will also see significant improvements. Of course it was a disappointment that the York to Scarborough line was not chosen as a priority route for electrification, and with this there are risks that this line won’t modernise at the same pace as the aforementioned economic developments.

Scarborough train station which currently services 900,000 people each year, only has an hourly service to York and on to Manchester Airport. The LEP Board and myself would like to see this frequency increased to half hourly, so that the quality and the frequency of the rail links support the growth potential of the local area.

The Transpennine and Northern rail franchises are currently out for tender and with growth outlined here, we expect passenger numbers to increase significantly.

More businesses, more visitors and more students will undoubtedly lead to more people using the Scarborough line, and I look forward to working with the bidders for the franchise to deliver more trains and a better quality service fit for the 21st Century.

For more information and the latest news on the work of the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Enterprise Partnership visit www.businessinspiredgrowth.com or follow us on Twitter @bizinspiredgrow

A bright future beckons

The York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Enterprise Partnership have committed to invest over £10m to improve the rail lines between York, Harrogate and Leeds.

Harrogate has more than 1.4 million* visitors to its train station each year and Scarborough gets over 900,000.

These numbers are expected to increase over the coming years.

Scarborough is being redeveloped in three different areas, a new university campus, proposals for a £1 bn potash development and new sea-front attractions, expected to attract an extra 500,000 to the resort.