144008 at Headingley, May 2006.
Yorkshire and the Humber
Virgin Trains East Coast
|Rolling stock||Class 43 "HST"
Class 142 "Pacer"
Class 144 "Pacer"
Class 150 "Sprinter"
Class 153 "Super Sprinter"
Class 155 "Super Sprinter"
Class 158 (occasionally)
|Line length||39-mile (62 km)|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
The Harrogate Line is the name given to a passenger rail service through parts of North Yorkshire and the West Yorkshire Metro area of northern England connecting Leeds to York by way of Harrogate and Knaresborough. The service is operated by Northern Rail, with a few additional workings by Virgin Trains East Coast starting and terminating at Harrogate. Metro's bus and rail MetroCard ticket is available for journeys between Leeds and Harrogate.
The routes over which the Harrogate Line trains now run were opened in 1848 by two of the railways which came to be part of the North Eastern Railway: the Leeds Northern Railway and the East and West Yorkshire Junction Railway. At the time of the 1923 Grouping the Harrogate area formed the junction for five routes: the main line was that from Leeds-Northallerton railway; the other lines were to:
- Pateley Bridge;
- Pilmoor on the East Coast Main Line; from that line was the junction for the line to York (the only remaining section open)
- Wetherby, where there was a junction to the Cross Gates to Wetherby Line;
- Church Fenton (the Harrogate to Church Fenton Line)
The Leeds station at the time was Leeds Central station, jointly owned by the NER and the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway
The line terminated in Harrogate at the Brunswick Station opened in 1848 but closed in 1862 when a new and more central station was opened in Harrogate.
The 39-mile (62 km) line is composed of all or part of the following Network Rail routes:
- LNE 9 from Leeds
- LNE 6A from Leeds West Junction
|Leeds West Junction||0–00||0.00|
- LNE 6 from Harrogate
- LNE 2 from Skelton Junction to York
Currently open stations in bold.
- Leeds, trains scheduled to operate via Harrogate through to York are shown with the destination of "Poppleton via Harrogate" because the Leeds-York journey via this route takes 40 minutes longer than the shorter York & Selby Lines route.
- here was Royal Gardens, only a short distance from Burley Park. This was closed in 1858.
- here was Cardigan Road Goods station
- Burley Park.
- Headingley (near B6157 Kirkstall Lane – the closest station to the Kirkstall Lane end of Headingley Stadium)
- here was Horsforth Woodside station which closed in 1864 and is located near the A6120 Leeds Outer Ring Road. It is speculated that a new station will open here in the future. Yorkshire Evening Post article
- Horsforth physically the closest railway station to Leeds & Bradford Airport, though no public transport link currently exists between Horsforth station and the Airport terminal. The closest railway station with a bus link is Guiseley on the busier electrified Wharfedale Line.
- Here lies the Bramhope Tunnel, a structure which is a length of some 2 miles 220 yd (3418 m) and the longest on the NER system
- here was Arthington station, and a triangular junction for the line to Otley (station and branch now closed, though recent interest in reopening as a park and ride facility for Pool-in Wharfedale has been mooted)
- Weeton for Huby and Weeton
- Pannal for Pannal, Burn Bridge and Spacey Houses. Here was the junction with the Harrogate to Church Fenton Line. The present line climbs and then turns sharply to join the former Harrogate to Church Fenton Line and cross Crimple Valley Viaduct, under which the original main line passed, en route to Starbeck. The course of this section (closed in 1951) can be seen from the viaduct Aerial View.
- Hornbeam Park for Oatlands Also the closest station to the Great Yorkshire Showground
- Harrogate for Harrogate and its Bus Station
- A potential station proposed by Harrogate Council/NYCC at Bilton, between Harrogate and Starbeck.
- Starbeck for Starbeck and Woodlands. Here were the junctions for Pateley Bridge and Northallerton.
- Knaresborough near Knaresborough High Street (the A59). Here was the line to Pilmoor. The line crosses the River Nidd on a high bridge.
- Cattal for Cattal, Whixley and Green Hammerton
- Hammerton for Green Hammerton and Kirk Hammerton
- here were Marston Moor and Hessay stations, now closed
- Poppleton for Upper Poppleton and Nether Poppleton
- York, which, apart from the East Coast Main Line services, is also served by Metro routes York & Selby and Dearne Valley Line (At York station, trains travelling to Leeds via Harrogate are shown with the destination of Burley Park.)
In addition to the regular services on the Harrogate Line occasionally when there is a major event on at Headingley Stadium such as an international cricket test match there is an increased service which runs prior to and after each such game. The services run between Leeds and Horsforth stations to cater for a large usage at Headingley and Burley Park railway stations and tickets are sold by Revenue Protection staff at the entrances to the platforms. This is to reduce the queue for tickets at Leeds station. Extra services are also run on the Harrogate Line for the Great Yorkshire Show.
On weekdays a daily morning direct service to London King's Cross operates via Leeds. On 20 January 2011 the Government owned East Coast Franchise Operator (East Coast Trains) announced that following strong local representations an evening return service is to be reinstated, providing a direct train from London to Harrogate, and which will operate 7 days a week from May 2011.
In July 2014, the Tour de France Grand Depart 2014 was held in Yorkshire with stage 1 from Leeds to Harrogate and thousands of spectators were expected. Two locomotive hauled services ran between Leeds and Harrogate during the day, alongside the local trains which were also running with extra seats available. Passengers wishing to travel between the depart at Leeds and first day finishing at Harrogate were required to wait separately outside Leeds station rather than proceed through the barriers; given the limited capacity through the station.
The route is served by a wide variety of Northern Rail rolling stock, the most common seen on the line are the Class 144 "Pacer", Class 150 "Sprinter", Class 153 "Super Sprinter" and Class 155 "Super Sprinter". Class 158s sometimes make appearances on the line as well. Virgin Trains East Coast services use the InterCity 125.
In July 2011, Harrogate Chamber of Commerce proposed to electrify the line with 750 V DC third rail, using D Stock of the London Underground, to substantially increase capacity. The D stock's replacement by S Stock on the District line in 2015 will make them available for other locations (they are not yet life-expired, having been built in 1980–83 and having been extensively refurbished in the 2000s). It is proposed that the stock will be converted to use the bottom-contact third rail system. The scheme has yet to gain support from Metro, Northern Rail or National Rail, generally overhead electrification is favoured and is the only method used in the region. Furthermore, the D stock is older than current stock using the line and runs on a fourth rail system.
Several new stations have also been proposed. In a recent issue of Rail magazine (November 2013) there are plans for the line to be electrified at 25 kV AC overhead power lines which could be in use by 2019. This means that there will be two electric lines to York from Leeds, the other being Leeds to York via Cross Gates which will soon be electrified.
On 5 March 2015, the Harrogate Line, amongst others in the area including the Leeds-Bradford Interchange-Halifax Line, the Selby-Hull Line and the Northallerton-Middlesbrough Line were named top priority for electrification; with an estimated cost for the Harrogate Line of £93 million with a projected cost benefit ratio of 1/1.80. No date has been set however.
The Ripon Railway
The Ripon Line was closed to passengers on 6 March 1967 and to freight on 5 September 1969 as part of the wider Beeching Axe, despite a vigorous campaign by local campaigners, including the city's MP. Today much of the route of the line through the city is now a relief road and although the former station still stands, it is now surrounded by a new housing development. The issue remains a significant one in local politics and there are movements wanting to restore the line. Reports suggest the reopening of a line between Ripon and Harrogate railway station would be economically viable, costing £40 million and could initially attract 1,200 passengers a day, rising to 2,700. Campaigners call on MPs to restore Ripon railway link.
- "HARROGATE LINE NEWS 1 1st Meeting supports bid" (PDF). Harrogate Chamber of Commerce. 12 August 2011. Retrieved 26 August 2011.
- "Reopening line makes economic sense, says study". NorthernEcho.co.uk. Retrieved 1 February 2009.[dead link]
- "Backing for restoring rail link". BBC News Online (BBC). 11 May 2004. Retrieved 4 January 2010.
- "Railway plan may be back on track". ThisIsTheNorthEast.co.uk. Retrieved 1 February 2009.
- "Campaigners call on MPs to restore Ripon railway link". Yorkshire Post. Retrieved 2 March 2015.