Passengers on the Harrogate line are now enjoying a more reliable service after Network Rail brought online a new signalling system this weekend to replace the old mechanical system which has been in place for many decades.
£16m has been invested to improve the reliability of the route by provision of modern signalling between Kirkstall Viaduct and Harrogate station. Engineers have also built a turnback at Horsforth which will allow Northern Rail to run a shuttle service between Horsforth and Leeds in the future.
Phil Verster, route managing director for Network Rail, said: “The Harrogate line is a real success story and passenger demand is expected to continue to grow. This substantial investment is great news for rail passengers as the new equipment will not only be more reliable but will give provision for future increases in line speed and the possibility for increased services.
“This is just one of many projects we are completing to improve services for passengers in the area. Others include resignalling between South Kirby and Wakefield; and Huddersfield and Bradford; a new southern entrance at Leeds station; a turnback at Micklefield and, in partnerships with local partners, new stations at Kirkstall Forge and Apperley Bridge.“
The signalling work on the Harrogate line involved the installation of new structures and signalling equipment along the route and transfer of signalling control from Horsforth and Rigton signal boxes to Harrogate signal box.
The work for the new turnback, immediately north of Horsforth station, included removal of old sidings, installation of new trackworks and significant earth and drainage works to reprofile land purchased from Leeds City Council. The project worked with Natural England and the Environment Agency to undertake the work in an environmentally friendly way and all vegetation removed will be replaced with wildlife/railway friendly flora.
The earthworks at Horsforth will continue for a further 12 weeks and Horsforth and Rigton boxes will be removed over the coming weeks.