North Yorkshire pursues railway improvements


On Tuesday 28th May the North Yorkshire County Council Executive approved the recommendation to submit a bid to the NYLTB for funding the double-tracking of the 10km of railway line between Knaresborough and Cattal. Total value of bid £12.5m. (NYLTB = North Yorkshire Local Transport Body)

This is a very significant step towards upgrading services on the existing Harrogate to York line which currently suffer from recurring delays due to two sections of single track, where one line was removed in the Beeching era. Knaresborough to Cattal is the longest section where as a safety measure at each end the driver and the signalman have to hand over a token, which gives a train the authority to occupy the single track. This enables the signalman to change the double to single line points at each end every time a train passes through the single track section in either direction.

Reinstating this section of double track will not only save the time taken for this procedure, thus reducing train journey times, it will also reduce the consequential delay that occurs if one train is late, making it impossible for the next train in the other direction to proceed over the single track until the points are changed again.

There will be less of a problem with just the remaining shorter section of single track between Hammerton and Poppleton, where the line is obstructed by the relatively new road bridge where the A59 goes over the line near Poppleton. Currently the interaction between the two sections of single track compounds any delay in one direction and affects the train in the other direction

HARROGATE RAIL LINE NEWS – Bid for reinstatement of double track between Knaresborough & Cattal.

Brian Dunsby, Chief Executive of Harrogate Chamber of Trade & Commerce, leads the Harrogate Line Supporters Group which is bidding for electrifying the whole line between Leeds, Harrogate, Knaresborough and York. Brian said “this double-tracking is a vital first step in the plans for this busy line. Hopefully it will come ahead of Network Rail’s plans for re-signalling this part of the line, as they have recently completed on the Leeds to Harrogate part of the route. Reinstatement of the double track will also make it possible to build a new Flaxby Moor Parkway Station with a large park and ride site, as part of the planned Flaxby Green Business Park, adjacent to the existing R R Donnelly Print Works.”

Councillor Don Mackenzie, the former Leader of Harrogate Borough Council, is a strong supporter of the bid to upgrade the Harrogate Line. Following the elections on 2 May, the Leader of NYCC, John Weighell, asked Don to join his Cabinet (the Executive), which Don accepted. This week’s meeting was the first he had attended as an Executive Member of the County Council, which is the Transport Authority for this area. Don expressed his full support for this bid to the Local Transport Body.

Don said “the other short-listed schemes, and indeed almost all the other possible ones, were highways related. This one is clearly not, but the potential economic benefit of the doubling of the track from Knaresborough to Cattal is huge, opening up the possibility of faster and more frequent rail services between Harrogate and the ECML at York. It also represents a necessary improvement to the line prior to electrification. I am particularly grateful to my colleagues on the Executive for their unanimous support for this bid.”

Anyone who wishes to be kept up to date with future developments on the Harrogate Line should send an e-mail to or phone 01423 879208.

2 thoughts on “North Yorkshire pursues railway improvements

  1. It is good to see rail infrastructure improvements in this are, but this is the wrong section to double and just typical of Harrogate Chamber of Trade getting it wrong again as they did with the wrong type of electrification. Poppleton-Hammerton is only 0.25 miles longer than Knaresborough-Cattal as the single line starts some distance from Knaresborough towards York. By double tracking Poppleton-Hammerton, making double track right through to Cattal, York Signalling Centre could be extended in stages towards Cattal and eventually Harrogate from the present boundary at Poppleton before the planned installation date of 2019.

    This would eliminate three signal boxes at Poppleton, Hammerton and Cattal and seven manned level crossings. This would reduce the operating costs and operating flexibility of the line enormously.The disused rail bridge over the Nidd would have to be redecked for the additional second track and the A59 road overbridge at Poppleton would have to be rebuilt to span double track once more. But this bridge is the responsibility of the Highways Agency who stated after rebuilding over the newly singled line that further alteration would be at their expence if ever the line was redoubled.

    Doubling between Knaresborough and Cattal would cost more in temporary signalling until the whole route is resignalled in 2019 and in proposed new stations at Flaxby and Knaresborough East. Two platforms would be required at each site instead of just one at more than double the cost of a single platform as DDA compliant stepless access would be needing via a footbridge and twin lift towers. The average cost of a two platform station at to-days prices is £6-£8 million.

    It may be advantageous to extend double track from Knaresborough to just York side of the proposed site of Knaresborough East station with a turnback facility controlled from Knaresborough signal box, but the experts would decide on that one.

    I think sorting out the congestion at Skelton Junction first would be more advantageous in both frequency and journey time improvements and wait until 2019 for redoubling.

  2. Apologies for the typos in my previous post. ‘Are’ in the first sentence should read ‘area’ and we all know how to spell expense. At the end of the second line, second paragraph, please insert the word ‘increase’.

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