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Rail electrification plans revealed

Rail electrification plans revealed

Published at 5:39pm 5th March 2015. (Updated at 5:35pm 6th March 2015)

The Leeds-Harrogate-York railway line is being fast-tracked for electrification.

It has been classified as an immediate priority scheme in a report by the North of England Electrification Task Force.

32 lines in the Northern Rail and TransPennine Express franchise areas have been considered and prioritised into three groups, based on criteria including economic benefits, impact on services, costs and environment.

Electrification will see more modern trains and faster journey times.

Business cases for each route will need to be developed to justify the significant investment needed.

Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones, who chaired the Task Force, said: "I am delighted to present, on behalf of the Task Force, our report to the Secretary of State today.

"It is a comprehensive report detailing where we think the priorities lie for rail electrification in the North. We have placed economic growth at the heart of this project and been working on the premise that all the lines of the North would be electrified, it is only a question of when. This report details where it should start.

"The work has been a real team effort. The Task Force has brought together different political parties, different regions of the North and different tiers of Government. It is a report from the North for the North.

"The need for rail electrification is significant. It is part of the improvements in infrastructure that we need in the North. We know how much there is to do and to do it we are looking at a task of generational scale. Indeed, this report is intended to look years ahead."

Harrogate Chamber of Trade and Commerce has welcomed the announcement on electrification.

Chief Executive Brian Dunsby said: "This is absolutely excellent news for everyone concerned, and the result of extensive hard work and campaigning over many years.

"Improving the rail service with electrification will make an enormous difference to Harrogate. As well as modern rolling stock, which is something we have needed for many years, we will benefit from increased frequency, shorter journey times, and services earlier in the morning and later in the evening, seven days a week.

"Obviously, this is very good news for local people, but importantly it is also a significant development for the local economy. As a town reliant on visitors, for both business and leisure, we need to have first class public transport services to encourage as many people to come to Harrogate as possible."

Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland, whose constituency includes Otley and Pool-in-Wharfedale, added: "This is excellent news and something I have long called for, raising it as recently as Wednesday in a meeting with the Treasury Minister.

"The Task Force's recommendation takes us one step closer to seeing the Leeds-Harrogate-York line electrified and many local businesses and residents will be very happy to hear this.

"I will continue to push for it to ensure the recommendation is fully implemented."