Transport bosses call for Harrogate rail services guarantee

railway

10:37am 23rd February 2018
(Updated 10:40am 23rd February 2018)

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority is asking the Transport Secretary to guarantee promised rail service improvements will be delivered despite the expected termination of the InterCity East Coast franchise.

In a letter to Chris Grayling, the Combined Authority underlines the importance of the additional services, due to be delivered in May 2019, to the Leeds City Region’s broader economic ambitions.

A significant increase in direct services between Harrogate and the capital are among the commitments included in the current franchise.

Mr Grayling, who is due to visit the Leeds City Region next week, confirmed in a statement to the House of Commons on 5 February that the current franchise will be terminated early.

The letter, signed by Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Chair of the Combined AuthorityandLeader of Bradford Council, and Cllr Keith Wakefield, Chair of the Combined Authority Transport Committee, says: “As you will know, the current InterCity East Coast franchise contains a number of important service commitments for the Leeds City Region due for delivery from the May 2019 timetable change.

“The commitment for a significant increase in the number of through-trains to and from London to places beyond Leeds was particularly welcome, and supports our inclusive economic growth agenda, as well as providing additional much-needed capacity between centres within the City Region.”

The letter asks Mr Grayling for “written assurance that the current commitments will be honoured”.

Cllr Hinchcliffe said:

“While it is clear that lessons need to be learned from another failure of the InterCity East Coast franchise, our immediate priority is to ensure that the improvements passengers have been promised will be delivered.

“As the Secretary of State considers next steps it is important the plans he puts in place include the commitments to the Leeds City Region secured in the current franchise agreement.”

Cllr Wakefield said:

“Businesses in our region have been planning on the basis of a significant increase in direct services between our towns and cities and London which have now been placed in doubt.

“We hope the Secretary of State will move quickly to offer reassurance that the termination of the InterCity East Coast franchise will not mean the loss of service improvements for which we have long worked.”

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