On the 9 January 2013 we published statements on the expansion of Leeds Bradford Airport, development of the Harrogate to Leeds rail line, and Metro’s plans to reduce local bus services. All impacting on Pool in Wharfedale future. Today, we have an update on latest rail proposals from the Arthington Station Action Group.
Arthington Station Action Group
23 January 2013
Dear Fellow Residents.
I attended a meeting held in Harrogate recently organised by Railfuture a nationally recognised passenger campaign group. Among the audience were various members of rail action and user groups from around the Yorkshire Area as well as members of the public ,local councilors and reps from Northern Rail. Chris Hyomes of Railfuture Yorkshire chaired the meeting.
Conducting a presentation and answering questions at the meeting were Brian Dunsby CEO of the Harrogate Chamber of Commerce, Mark Leving ex managing director of Hull Trains both also now directors of the Harrogate Line Development Company. Also present and speaking was Graham North policy Support officer from North Yorkshire Council. The presentation given by all three officers focused on the future aspirations for the Harrogate Railway Line.
Most of those present at the meeting agreed that there are major problems with the existing service in terms of the age of the rolling stock and overcrowding particularly at peak times. All conceded that electrification of the line was vital if improvements were to be achieved.
The Harrogate line is currently the most overcrowded line after the trans-pennine route. By developing the route capacity with faster and more frequent trains capable of carrying more people and by building new stations and making them more accessible, people will turn up and use the service. A fifteen minute frequency Harrogate to Leeds train service and increasing from one train per hour to one train every thirty minutes from Harrogate to York is being put forward.
As we know an original cost effective solution put forward by the Harrogate Chamber for electrifying the route involved ex London Overground third rail stock. Whilst the alternative from West Yorkshire PTE (Metro) was to turn the whole route into a tram service. The latter would have produced a system far worse in terms of speed and on train capacity than the present existing diesel stock already provides. However, what the Harrogate third rail idea did introduce was a focusing of public interest in the line and on what is possible. This in turn has now lead to various high level discussions involving officers from North Yorkshire Council,Northern Rail, Network Rail, the PTEs and The Harrogate Line Development Company. Some support from several MPs and some local councilors has also been forthcoming.
This new Harrogate Line Officers Group has been tasked with producing a business case for the line to be submitted to the DFT by the spring of this year 2013. The group needs to be told exactly what the public would like to see happening along the route. For example where new stations should be located. However, due cognizance needs to be taken on how these stations would impact on the line and their cost benefit ratio. So minimum speck stations are desirable. There also needs to be consideration on all round intergaration with other forms of transport like buses, cars and cycles.
So what sort of station improvements could we be talking abo
The stations which would be of benefit to our area would be Pool Park and Ride and Leeds Bradford Airport Park and Ride Stations
A cycle track from Otley to Arthington along the old railway line (previously discussed) would sit very well with the DFTs integration strategy as would shuttle bus links from Otley. Car parking is available around Arthington which would not impact on the area as much as some people would have us believe and is easily achievable.
The cost of constructing a minimum speck station which has already being priced by approved rail contractors for Arthington is £1.6 million pounds which ticks the BCR box. At this price any investment would quickly produce a return from the fares collected.
Arthington Pool Parkway station would sit within the West Yorkshire PTE area of subsidised fares. A train to Leeds or Harrogate every 15 minutes has to be far better than the present drive to work and park for most of us.
It is interesting to note the hype surrounding the new NGT trolley bus system to be built running from Holt Park through to Leeds Centre and on to South Leeds. Apparently it will free up traffic through Headingley and cut down on congestion. This may be great news for residents who could use the NGT. However I don’t think the people behind the project quite realise where most of this traffic is actually coming from. For clarity it’s Bramhope, Otley, Pool, Arthington, LBA and several other places as well. A Trolley Bus will not make commuters ditch their cars, but something a lot quicker like a train probably would if the system was frequent and worked reliably.
Very shortly traffic coming through Pool and Arthington to Leeds Bradford Airport is going to increase out of all proportions. The buses are being knocked off and our area is becoming isolated. The case for upgrading the Harrogate Line and involving Pool in Wharfedale in the proceedings is overwhelming.
I have recently been asked to comment on the Business case being put forward for the upgrading the Harrogate Line as presented at the Railfuture meeting so far as the Wharfe valley is concerned. I replied as follows.
My thoughts on the situation in our part of the Wharfe Valley area.
Pool in Wharfedale has a railway line running past its front door. A park and ride station at Arthington /Pool Parkway would bring some new passengers to the line due to the unavailability of parking at Menston Station on the Ilkley line and Weeton Station on the Harrogate line. Any new transport facilities being built in our part of the Metro area of West Yorkshire which could offer residents of Pool and Otley an alternative to driving into Leeds or Harrogate has to be a positive situation. Likewise a Station at LBA which would provide car drivers from all over North Yorkshire with a viable alternative to driving through the narrow roads running through Arthington and Pool in Wharfedale to get there is also good.
Arthington / Pool Parkway could be linked to a cycle track along the old railway line to Otley and also with shuttle bus connections. This fits in well with government / DFT policies on transport integration.
A lot of time and effort has been put in to developing a business case for the Harrogate line and it is very commendable of those involved in doing this.
It was the Victorians who said that “Railways will make people rich”. This statement still holds good today for all of us and not just in monetary terms. Cheap transport provides more disposable income for the public. Good transport links allow the public to spend this income in shops and business in Leeds, Harrogate, Pool and Otley. Quality of life improves along with reductions in carbon emissions brought about by using electric trains and being able to ditch the car.
More new stations are needed along the line and their potential development should not be stifled in favour of end to end journey times. Train Stations open up new job opportunities, they generate income and their locations can generate public support and prosperity.
It’s all a no brainer to me I just hope the people in Government understand completely what needs to be done with the Harrogate Railway line.
Good luck to all those involved.
Arthington Station Action Group.
Note: Anyone who would like to read a copy of the power point presentation which was presented at the Railfuture meeting can request a copy via Email to ArthingtonSAG@Aol.com Anyone interested in Railfuture and their work can read their web site at http://www.railfuture.org.uk
We are only able do so much as an action group to try and help resolve the problem of transport. A problem which continues to effect so many of us in many different ways. I believe the proposals for the Harrogate line would certainly help if the Dft backs the proposals in their entirety. But at the end of the day the solution for our area has to rest with us all. Arthington Pool Parkway will not happen without enough public support.
If you agree with what we are trying to achieve and would like to support our efforts please lobby our Councillors and our MP, or you can sign up for free to the Arthington Station Action Group via Email at ArthingtonSAG@Aol.com