Plans for extra trains between Knaresborough and York facing 'major hurdle'

Plans for extra trains between Knaresborough and York facing 'major hurdle'

Published by Local Democracy Reporter Lachlan Leeming at 2:48pm 18th October 2019. (Updated at 2:50pm 18th October 2019)

A logjam of trains north of York has been pinpointed as the major hurdle in front of a £13.5m upgrade - aimed at achieving a twice-hourly service between the city and Knaresborough.

  • The £13.5m upgrade would mean twice hourly trains between Knaresborough an York. 
  • Congestion on the East Coast Mainline north of York is a 'major hurdle' to the plans.  
  • Network Rail is currently undertaking a comprehensive review of timetables.

A new report to be discussed by North Yorkshire’s transport scrutiny committee highlights progress on the project to increase the current service to two trains per hour in each direction between Knaresborough and York.

While it states that work to develop and deliver the £13.5m project is running according to programme, a report expected in December on rail traffic north of York – which has been described as a “significant risk” – will ultimately dictate whether the upgrade will be successful.

The report states:

“Whilst initial indications are that the scheme can achieve the required two trains per hour outcome there remains one significant risk to its delivery, namely track capacity on the East Coast Mainline immediately north of York.  There is a significant capacity constraint on this section of line where freight traffic, East Coast Mainline, Transpennine, Cross Country and the Harrogate Line services all interact”.

Operator Network rail is currently undertaking a comprehensive review of the timetable on the whole East East Coast Mainline (including the section north of York), with a report on the issues expected in December.

Jointly funded by the county council and the Local Enterprise Partnership, the scheme to upgrade service between Knaresborough and York includes minor infrastructure improvements on the Harrogate line that will allow the train operator, Northern, to fulfil its franchise commitment to double the services to two trains per hour in each direction.

Preliminary design of the infrastructure and timetable assessments are expected to be completed in December 2019.
According to North Yorkshire County Council, the authority is working with Network Rail to be ready to commission the next phases of work, which will include detailed design and delivery of the infrastructure, to start in January 2020.

Harrogate’s cabinet member for planning, Rebecca Burnett, said earlier this year the potential construction of a new 3000-home village near Green Hammerton as dictated in the draft local plan would “help with the commercial justification for improvements” to the rail line.