TRAIN journeys between Harrogate and Leeds could take less than 30 minutes for the first time after plans were revealed yesterday for major timetable improvements.
The initiative could see as much as seven minutes – about a fifth of the current journey time – shaved off trips between the spa town and West Yorkshire city.
Yesterday, senior council officials and business leaders met Northern Rail to discuss local services between Leeds, Harrogate and York.
They also discussed long-term hopes for trains every 20 minutes between Leeds and Harrogate, with faster services not stopping at either Burley Park or Headingley stations in Leeds.
Currently, there is a half-hourly stopping service.
The meeting also considered the practicalities of running a bus-rail link between Leeds-Bradford Airport and Horsforth station.
The current service between the airport and Harrogate is threatened 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 three “satellite” stations at Starbeck, Pannal and Hornbeam Park each year – up from 1.7 million six years ago.
Harrogate Chamber of Trade and Commerce’s chief executive Brian Dunsby said that although more passengers were using the Leeds-Harrogate line, “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 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”.