Harrogate Line

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Harrogate Line
Headingley Stn.jpg
144008 at Headingley, May 2006.
Type Heavy rail
System National Rail
Status Operational
Locale West Yorkshire
North Yorkshire
Yorkshire and the Humber
Termini Leeds
Stations 14
Opened 1848
Owner Network Rail
Operator(s) Northern Rail
Virgin Trains East Coast
Depot(s) Neville Hill
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 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Harrogate Line
East Coast Main Line
towards London King's Cross
East Coast Main Line
towards Edinburgh Waverley
Marston Moor
Wilstrop Goods
Pilmoor, Boroughbridge &
Knaresborough Railway
Hornbeam Park
Crimple Valley Viaduct
Harrogate to
Church Fenton Line
Otley and Ilkley
Joint Railway
Bramhope Tunnel
Horsforth Woodside
Burley Park
(opened 1988)
Holbeck Low / High Level
Leeds Central
Leeds City
Various lines
(see Leeds Station)

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.[1]



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:

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.


Schematic diagram of the Harrogate Line including closed stations and branch lines

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
LNE 6A M–Ch km
Leeds West Junction 0–00 0.00
Whitehall Junction 0–25 0.50
Headingley 2–67 4.55
Horsforth 5–37 8.80
Weeton 11–38 18.45
Pannal 14–59 23.70
Harrogate 18–00 28.95
  • LNE 6 from Harrogate
LNE 6 M–Ch km
Harrogate 0–00 0.00
Starbeck 2–11 3.45
Knaresborough 3–64 6.10
Cattal 10–18 16.45
Hammerton 11–57 18.85
Poppleton 17–34 28.05
Skelton Junction 18–68 30.35
  • 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.
South portal of the Bramhope Tunnel

Special services[edit]

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.[2]

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.[3] 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.[4] 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.[5]

The Ripon Railway[edit]

The city was previously served by Ripon railway station on the Leeds-Northallerton Line that ran between Leeds and Northallerton.[6] It was once part of the North Eastern Railway and then LNER.

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.[6] 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.[6] 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.[6][7][8] Campaigners call on MPs to restore Ripon railway link.[9]


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 53°59′38″N 1°32′16″W / 53.99382°N 1.5377°W / 53.99382; -1.5377