Harrogate Line Supporters Group – Response to Railway Proposals

As you may know, the Government commissioned consultants WSPPB to study the alternative ways of improving surface connectivity to Leeds Bradford International Airport. Their 161 page report was published on 5th December 2014. It can be viewed or downloaded from the DfT web site via this link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/leeds-bradford-international-airport-access-improvements-feasibility-study

The Chancellor commented on the issue of airport connectivity in the autumn statement announcement. The two references to the study are at paras. 1.193 (page 50) and 2.195 (page 86) and are reproduced below:

1.193. International connectivity is also crucial. The government encourages West Yorkshire Combined Authority to develop further the plans to improve connectivity to Leeds Bradford International Airport.

2.195. Leeds Bradford Airport connectivity – The government is publishing the outcome of a feasibility study on improved connectivity at Leeds Bradford International Airport, setting out the potential connectivity benefits of a new link road costing £38 million and recommending further consideration of opportunities for a rail link. It will be for the West Yorkshire Combined Authority to consider how to take the recommendations forward.

The full Autumn Statement can be viewed via this link: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/382327/44695_Accessible.pdf

Harrogate Chamber of Trade & Commerce has made repeated efforts to propose a cost-effective solution at Airport Consultative Committee and Transport Forum meetings and at earlier meetings about the electrification of the Harrogate Line. We proposed a new Parkway Station on the existing line, near the southern portal of the Bramhope Tunnel, close to the long stay car park. Our proposals were outlined in a paper by our Rail Adviser Mark Leving, attached as HT470. This was submitted to the Consultants via the DfT.

We believe the Consultants’ report into rail connectivity options for Leeds Bradford International Airport has too many flaws and inconsistencies in the assessment to provide adequate objectivity in support of the deployment of significant public funds on this potential project. The Consultants rejected our proposal for a LBIA Parkway Station on the existing Harrogate Line and instead they favoured a new heavy rail link from Guiseley via the Airport to Horsforth – at enormous expense – and when the lines each end of that route are already full!

Our proposal for a LBIA Parkway Station on the existing Harrogate Line scored equal first with a proposed new rail link amongst the ten different rail options considered by the consultants. (Page 49 Section 8.2.2) However it was then dismissed at a late stage in the assessment process on the grounds that an “interchange” between the train and the shuttle bus to the Terminal was not recommended. The use of buses within airports and adjoining facilities is commonplace world-wide and this does not influence passenger choice whether or not to use an airport

In this paper we challenge several technical details in the assessment process and the scores allocated to each option. Furthermore the assessment takes no account of the very high capital cost of a new line with new stations and new rolling stock, compared with making use of the existing Harrogate Line services which only requires a new station – and no new track or new rolling stock.
Likewise the assessment appears to ignore the fact that the existing Harrogate Line services are already fully resourced in terms of on-train and on-track staff, whereas the proposed new line would require new staff on the new trains and the new track and any new stations. Furthermore the Harrogate Line is on the Government short list for electrification, so it would seem logical to maximise the use of this investment which could provide a 15 minute frequency service between Leeds City Station and the Airport. The proposed direct rail link with a 30 minute frequency would require new paths into Leeds Station and through Armley and Shipley Junctions which are currently not available.

Would you please use your influence to persuade the West Yorkshire Combined Authority to undertake a more detailed study of this shorter-term lower cost solution for a rail connection to the Airport?

I would be grateful for your comments and for an introduction to anyone else whom you think should see our report.

Many thanks

Brian L Dunsby, Chief Executive
(Holder of The Queen’s Award for Enterprise Promotion)
HARROGATE CHAMBER OF TRADE & COMMERCE
P O Box 8, Dept T2, HARROGATE HG2 8XB, UK
Tel: 01423 879208 Fax: 01423 870025
Mobile: 07836 537512 (only when out of office)
E-mail: chiefexec@harrogatechamber.org
LinkedIn: http://uk.linkedin.com/in/brianldunsby
Websites:
http://www.harrogatechamber.org
http://www.yorkshirebusinessmarket.org
http://www.harrogatechristmasmarket.org
http://www.harrogateatchristmas.org
http://www.harrogateline.org

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