Yorkshire railway line between Harrogate and Ripon that was closed in Beeching cuts 'unlikely to re-open' as 'only one person' has been campaigning for it

A transport official has poured cold water on hopes that the Harrogate – Ripon – Northallerton train line will reopen any time soon, saying to do so could cost the taxpayer hundreds of millions of pounds.

Harrogate’s link with Ripon was axed by Dr Beeching during his infamous 1960s rail reforms and the last train ran in 1967.

Since then, much of the track was ripped up to make way for the Ripon bypass and former station buildings have been converted into homes.

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The current line from Leeds and Harrogate, extended all the way to Northallerton, but this was deemed a duplicate route to the East Coast Main Line from York.

Ripon Station in the 1960sRipon Station in the 1960s
Ripon Station in the 1960s

A number of other stations serving the villages of Newby Wiske, Pickhill, Sinderby, Melmerby, Wormald Green and Nidd Bridge were also lost.

But there has been a long-running bid to see it reinstated, led by Dr Adrian Morgan, who founded the Ripon Railway Reinstatement Association in 1987.

The campaign was discussed by Graham North, strategy and performance rail officer at the new York and North Yorkshire Combined Authority, when he gave a wide-ranging presentation to Skipton and Ripon councillors on Thursday.

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However, Mr North claimed there was not the same level of public support for reopening the route when compared to similar campaigns such as at Skipton to Colne.

Mr North said: “These schemes cost hundreds and hundreds of millions of pounds and we have to prioritise which ones come forward. We didn’t get the same level of support for Harrogate to Ripon when compared to other schemes. It’s been one individual all the time who’s been writing. There has to be a more coordinated campaign.”

The closure of Ripon Station left the city without rail connections and was strongly opposed at the time.

Cllr Barbara Brodigan (Liberal Democrat, Ripon Ure Bank & Spa) said she wanted to see the line reopened as she believes Ripon is underperforming primarily because of poor connectivity.

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Although she “doesn’t hold out any hope” for the line reopening in her lifetime.

Cllr Brodigan said: “It will get worse with the barracks development increasing the population by 25%. All development is on the west side of the city. It’s a logjam that will get worse. Opening up the Harrogate to Ripon line would be a huge move forward and contribute to our economic development. Funding is an issue but the longer we leave it, the more expensive it becomes.”

Cllr David Noland (Green Party, Skipton North & Embsay-with-Eastby) struck a more optimistic tone and added: “If we can put a tunnel under Stonehenge and a man on the moon why can’t we link Harrogate to Ripon?”