Harrogate and Knaresborough’s MP has reacted strongly to news of further cuts to services between Harrogate and Leeds announced in the last few days by Northern. The new cuts – which see the earliest train at 6.07am axed alongside some evening services from May – come on top of cuts to services during the COVID pandemic.
Andrew Jones, the Member of Parliament for Harrogate and Knaresborough, has written to Robin Gisby, Chairman of Northern Rail, asking him to rethink the service reductions.
Mr Jones commented: “Over the last 12 years we have seen steady improvements to our local rail services. The hated pacer trains have gone, we have more direct services to London with the Azumas and we had seen welcome increases in services to Leeds and York.
“Many groups and individuals lobbied hard to get those changes and we worked with regional and national rail companies in a positive and constructive way. None of us want to see these hard-won improvements lost.
“Everybody understands that train use was much lower during lockdown and that some long-term changes to business use of public transport due to increased working from home is likely.
“However these changes won’t be forever and there are other pressures in the local and national economy – such as the increase in fuel prices, the strength of the jobs market, the re-opening of the conference and exhibition business and the emphasis on greener methods of travel – which seem likely to lead to an increase in public transport use.
“It is simply therefore too early to judge whether it is right to consolidate the cuts made during the COVID lockdowns into the timetable and add new reductions on top of that.
“I have written to the Chairman of Northern Rail asking him to pause any proposed service reductions between Harrogate and Leeds and consider reversing the earlier reductions in stages so that we get back to the level of service we had pre-pandemic.”