Why reinstating railway lines could be the answer to short-sighted route decisions: The Yorkshire Post Letters

From: Dr Adrian Morgan, Chair, Leeds Northern Railway Reinstatement Group, Trinity Park, Ripon.

Is there scope to reopen disused railway lines in the Leeds City Region?

In response to recent correspondence, there has been a pressure group campaigning for reinstatement of the Harrogate-Ripon-Northallerton line since 1987 and for the (Leeds) Cross Gates-Wetherby-Harrogate line since Leeds City Council, in its short-sighted wisdom, withdrew route protection in 2001.

These two lines would create another strategic route from West Yorkshire to Teesside/Tyneside/Scotland 13 miles shorter than the current route avoiding the ever increasing congested pinchpoint of York.

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At the same time reinstating the line through Ripon would also create an emergency diversion route between York and Northallerton as, at the moment, this is the only section on the whole London to Edinburgh route without an alternative in an emergency.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is open to reversing some of the Beeching cuts.

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On the afternoon of December 2, the East Coast main line was closed unexpectedly just north of York and no passenger or freight trains ran for 18 hours until the line was repaired the next day.

It took three hours to organise replacement buses between York and Newcastle.

Most passenger trains could have diverted via Ripon to Northallerton with only 35-40 minutes additional journey time if the line was still extant, but Network Rail and the Government choose not to admit this fact and would rather inconvenience passengers.

It takes longer to travel from Leeds to Ripon by public transport (over twice as long in an evening and just longer than Leeds to London by electric train) than it did by steam train in 1950 and probably long before that.

This is unacceptable to a community within the Leeds City Region in 2020.

Reinstating Wetherby-Tadcaster-Church Fenton would also connect Tadcaster to employment in Leeds and both communities together with the proposed development of 2,000 homes between Wetherby and Tadcaster, to York by an additional chord towards York at Church Fenton.

A commuter train can hold 1,000 passengers and can deliver them into the city centre in a few minutes compared to a bus or across the city to elsewhere on the network.

In contrast East Leeds Orbital Road to the M1 at Thorpe Park is costing £25m per mile for four miles and only encourages yet more car commuting.