Network Rail has completed a humongous £9.8 million upgrade to the rail route between Knaresborough and Poppleton which will advance services for passengers for years to come.
The project has been carried out by Network Rail and subsidised by North Yorkshire Country Council and the York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership supported by Government funding from the Local Growth Fund.
The signalling system has been updated and the process of token signalling removed, as well as reformed to the track layout at Cattal railway station, which will permit two trains to enter the station at the same time.
Work has also taken place to install new safety measures at some level crossings on the route and this work is vital to maintain safety once more trains begin running.
The completion of the project will not only create a more modern, reliable and resilient railway for passengers but will also enable more services to run in the future, better connecting Harrogate and York, as well as stations along the route.
Luke Espin, Sponsor for Network Rail, said: “This project will enable more services to run in the future and is key to improving transport links for passengers, and we’re really happy that this work is now complete.
“To allow this work to take place safely, there were some changes to train services, as well as short term road closures, and we’d like to thank all those who were impacted for their patience.
“It’s been great to work with both North Yorkshire County Council and the York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership on this project and we look forward to passengers reaping the benefits.”
Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris said: “The completion of these vital upgrades at Cattal and along the Harrogate-York line is fantastic news for passengers across North Yorkshire, creating a more modern, reliable and resilient railway for years to come.
“By enabling improved connections between Harrogate and York, as well as stations along the route, it will help this region build back better, boosting the local economy and supporting tourism.”
Andrew Jones MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough said: “In recent years we’ve seen more services and faster services on the York-Harrogate-Leeds line. We have seen signalling upgrades and the new Azuma services to and from London coming to Harrogate. We have also seen the back of the old, leaky pacer trains.
"Now we have seen the completion of the works enabling two trains at once to enter Cattal station. The importance of this is that it removes a bottleneck to future increases in capacity on the line. This means that the ability to increase services to and from York now exists whereas previously the infrastructure constrained that. It is another huge step forward for our local rail line.”
Rachael Maskell, MP for York Central, said: "It is a day to be celebrated as the upgrade to the York-Harrogate line reaches completion. Greater connectivity will benefit the economies of York and Harrogate and all stops in between as well as provide vital infrastructure. Good public transport improves our environment, prevents congestion on our roads and supports our communities. I trust that there will be more collaborations in the years to come to secure modal shift.”
North Yorkshire County Councillor Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Access, said: “We are pleased to be part of the delivery of this improvement to the Harrogate line which will enable an increased, quicker and more reliable service in the future.
“The line now benefits from more modern technology and Network Rail have increased safety at a number of level crossings and reduced congestion at Harrogate railway station.
“We have enjoyed working with Network Rail and the York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership to deliver this project which significantly enhances rail infrastructure in the North.”
Images: Network Rail