Faster journeys in prospect after meeting with train firm

Paul Jeeves

TRAIN journeys between Harrogate and Leeds could take less than 30 minutes for the first time after plans were revealed yesterday for a major re-structuring of the timetable.

The initiative could see services streamlined between the spa town and the West Yorkshire city, quickening journeys by as much as seven minutes – about a fifth of the time it currently takes to travel between the two.

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A meeting was held yesterday between Northern Rail, which runs services between Leeds, Harrogate and York, and senior council and business officials.

Within three years, some services may not stop at Burley Park and Headingley stations in Leeds.

The meeting also discussed long-term hopes for trains every 20 minutes – rather than the current 30-minute intervals – between Leeds and Harrogate.

The Yorkshire Post revealed yesterday that efforts have started to campaign to improve rail connections between Harrogate and London, although the meeting with Northern Rail was about improving more local services.

The Harrogate Chamber of Trade and Commerce’s chief executive, Brian Dunsby, said: “Northern Rail has supported the Harrogate line very well over recent years, and usage has increased.

“However, further improvements are needed, and the proposals which were discussed are under serious consideration.

“We have come a long way already, but more needs to be done.”

Harrogate Borough Council’s cabinet member for planning, transport and economic development, Councillor Don Mackenzie, who was also at the meeting, claimed it had been “very productive”.

The meeting with Northern Rail also discussed the potential for installing a bus-rail link between Leeds-Bradford airport and Horsforth station.

An existing bus service between the airport and Harrogate is under threat as North Yorkshire County Council tries to slash subsidies as part of its multi-million pound cutbacks.

More than two million passengers use Harrogate’s main station and its three satellite stations at Starbeck, Pannal and Hornbeam Park each year – up from 1.7 million six years ago.