HARROGATE LINE - bid for electrification

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NEWS RELEASE - 28th February 2015

SUPPORTERS GROUP MEETINGS WITH NORTHERN LINE FRANCHISE BIDDERS

Harrogate Chamber Chief Executive Brian Dunsby and a group of members who depend on rail services have held a series of meetings with the short-listed bidders for the Northern Rail franchise and the TransPennine Express Franchise - and with the successful bidders for the East Coast main-line franchise.

The East Coast mainline services, including the current once-a-day each way direct London-Harrogate service, will be taken over by a partnership of Virgin and Stagecoach with effect from 1st March 2015.  Stagecoach own 90% and Virgin 10% of the new company, but it will be branded as Virgin Trains East Coast.

Initially they will use the existing East Coast rolling stock on the current timetable - namely southbound on weekdays at 07.34, due into Kings Cross at 10.35 and northbound at 17.33 due into Harrogate at 20.25 - with a complimentary evening  meal served in First Class!

Brian met Wayne Kyte, Service Development Manager at Stagecoach's sister company East Midlands Trains and Edward O'Loughlin, Technical Director, Rail Strategy & Planning at WSP UK, who are the Consultants working on the implementation of the new franchise.  They assured the Chamber that they would be focussing on improved reliability of the trains, better customer service and closer cooperation with stakeholder groups along the route.  They are also investing in improved wi-fi on the trains and a series of station improvements. 

Looking further ahead, the Stagecoach representatives confirmed that Harrogate would be served by the new InterCity Express Programme (IEP) bi-modal electric-diesel trains from May 2019, when a two-hourly direct service to and from London was being scheduled - seven days a week.  Brian said this was just what the Chamber had campaigned for over the past 5 years as these trains would really stimulate Harrogate businesses in both directions - for both inbound business and leisure visitors and for outbound business and leisure travellers.   The first prototype of the IEP Trains has recently been shipped from Japan and is due to arrive in the UK in March this year for testing.  A totally new factory is now under construction at Newton Aycliffe near Darlington to build the large number of IEP trains needed for both East Coast and Great Western line services from 2018.

Simon Kent and Robert Penfold from HIC met the Virgin-Stagecoach team with Brian and they stressed the importance of more direct trains to Harrogate for the many conference and exhibition delegates attending both trade and consumer events at HIC and at the Yorkshire Showground and in a number of larger hotels in Harrogate. 

The Chamber also arranged meetings for the Harrogate Line Supporters Group with the three bidders for the Northern Franchise, Abellio, Arriva, and Govia.  In each case they stressed the need for more frequent services, starting earlier in the morning and continuing half-hourly during the evening and at weekends - with better quality rolling stock to replace the obsolete 140 series Pacers, sometime referred to as Cattle Trucks on the Hogwarts Express!  

Finally the Group met the First Group bidding for a renewal of their TransPennine Express franchise when the concept of a new direct service between Harrogate and Manchester Airport was put forward for their consideration.

For more information on Harrogate Trains both local and long distance look at www.harrogateline.org

Brian L Dunsby
HARROGATE LINE SUPPORTERS GROUP.
P O Box 888, Dept HT13, HARROGATE HG2 8UH
Tel: 01423 879208  Fax: 01423 870025
Mobile: 07836 537512
brian.dunsby@harrogateline.org
www.harrogateline.org

 

The announcement of Virgin Trains and Stagecoach as the winner of the franchise to run the East Coast mainline rail service has been welcomed by Harrogate Chamber of Trade and Commerce.

The Chamber, which has campaigned actively to get a two-hourly service to the capital, said the winning bid will bring significant benefits to the North Yorkshire spa town.

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