Reopening of 11-mile Harrogate-Ripon rail link takes a step nearer

MOVES to create a preferred route to reopen the 11-mile rail link between Harrogate and Ripon will be made at a key meeting next month.

A consultant's study has already declared that a reopened rail line would be viable.

On February 9 North Yorkshire County Council's transport chiefs have called a meeting to report on findings for a route and site of a possible terminal in Ripon.

The original line, which had intermediate stations at Nidd Bridge and Wormald Green and links to Northallerton, was shut to passenger traffic by Dr Charles Beeching in 1967 as part of a nationwide axing by the former British Railway of uneconomic railway lines.

Phase one of the study was started in 2004 considering the commercial aspects of reopening the line, including a service beyond Ripon to Northallerton and between Ripon and Thirsk.

While consultants say the Harrogate-Ripon line would be a viable proposition, they have discounted the ideas of extending to Northallerton and Thirsk.

Terminal

At the meeting in Harrogate International Centre, to be chaired by North Yorkshire transport chief Mike Moore, the engineering and environmental impact will be spelt out.

Recommendations will be made for a preferred route and the terminal in Ripon.

Although the Nidd Gorge is still bridged, other bridges along the old route, including one at South Stainley, over the A61 and a viaduct leading to Ripon Station near North Bridge, have long since been demolished.

In addition there has been development along the old line, notably at Littlethorpe and Wormald Green south of Ripon.

Residents at Littlethorpe have already expressed concern about the impact a new line would have following housing development on the old track bed.

Meanwhile the meeting will also hear of a recent study undertaken by the consultants ARUP about increasing capacity on the current Leeds-Harrogate-York line.

Andrew Easson, the county's rail support officer, says this is because of a sustained and continuing growth in passsengers using the line.

ARUP will give details of the economic impact the greater Leeds Regional Area will have on commuting between North Yorkshire and Leeds by public and private transport.

Earlier, five potential sites for a new railway station in Ripon were highlighted in a 100-page document by the consultants. One would be near Morrison's superstore on the opposite side of Ripon bypass.

Risen

Two others are near the first roundabout beyond Morrison's, also on the southern side of the by pass.

Another site in the same area is on a potential flood plain and a fifth is closer towards the old station which was at Ure Bank, a mile from the city centre.

It was originally forecast that reopening the line would cost upwards of 40m. But it is believed this figure has now risen considerably.