Campaigners' dismay as no funding for rural rail link study

CAMPAIGNERS hoping to reinstate a railway to link between North and West Yorkshire are dismayed that a local authority hasn’t provided financial support after publically backing it.

The Leeds Northern Railway Reinstatement Group is working to reinstate a rail link between Northallerton, Harrogate, Ripon and Leeds.

The campaign to reinstate the railway line linking Northallerton with Ripon and then Harrogate began in 1987, after the line closed in 1967. In 2011 the campaign was extended to push for the line to then go on to Wetherby, Cross Gates and Leeds.

The campaign group has built a strong case for reinstating the line, backed by professional transport consultants who thought it was a realistic option. But so far little progress has been made.

The group has been frustrated after North Yorkshire County Council turned down their plea for £15,000 for a feasibility study, which would move the project along.

In January last year an area committee for the county council commissioned a feasibility study into the project.

The council says it still supports the principal, but with its current pressure on budgets there is no longer funding.

The council is currently dealing with drastic budget cuts as it struggles to make savings which amount to an overall reduction in its spending power of a third.

A spokeswoman for the council said: “Our position is that we support rail reopenings in principle.

“But in the present economic climate in which we face significant budgetary pressures we do not have spare funds for feasibility studies of this nature and would look to support from the rail industry to take this forward.”

Adrian Morgan, chairman of the Leeds Northern Railway Reinstatement Group, said: “North Yorkshire County Council has done absolutely nothing towards a study into reinstating the railway through Ripon since January 2013.

“They have bluntly refused to contribute funds towards a £15,000 feasibility study as it would be a “a waste of money because reinstatement will never happen”, yet it has spent £120,000 on a feasibility for a four mile, £45m Bedale bypass that will cost more than reinstating the railway ten miles from Ripon to Harrogate.”

The group says there is a sound economic argument for reinstating the railway, as it would create a Harrogate to Northallerton journey time reduction of 55 minutes, by avoiding a detour via York. It would also make travelling between Leeds and Northallerton shorter and quicker for the same reason.

It also says reopening the line would also create an alternative route for planned or emergency rail diversions between York and Northallerton.

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