Disappointment after Harrogate - Huddersfield confusion

The Northern Echo: Oh yes it is, oh no it isn't: Harrogate railway station Oh yes it is, oh no it isn't: Harrogate railway station

WHEN Network Rail announced a £10m overhaul of a  town’s railway station, passengers and business leaders were delighted.

After a lengthy campaign by local firms frustrated over the volume of trains to and from Harrogate, North Yorkshire, Network Rail's route managing director Phil Verster answered their calls on Tuesday by confirming the scheme - saying he expected “passengers to be very pleased”.

He revealed the work, to be carried out between 2014 and 2019, would include changes to the two-track station’s layout and platforms, as well as track work to accomomodate more trains.

However, today (Thursday, January 10) a rather red-faced Mr Verster was forced to backtrack - explaining Network Rail had meant to say Huddersfield, rather than Harrogate, was to receive the investment

Mr Verster said “a genuine human error” had led to Harrogate being included in a press release instead of Huddersfield - which lies 36 miles away in West Yorkshire - and “profusely apologised” for failing to spot the blunder.

He said the firm had been examining hundreds of potential projects in the area, including Harrogate, and was investing £44m in improving signalling on the York to Leeds line.

“I hold my hands up as the responsible managing director. We have a lot to bow down and apologise for.”

Brian Dunsby, chief executive of Harrogate Chamber of Trade, said: "Naturally we are disappointed, but to be quite honest, we were quite surprised to hear the announcement.”

He said business leaders had been working with Network Rail, the county council and Metro on a scheme to upgrade the whole of the Harrogate line, which also needed improved services to London, a third platform at Harrogate, storage spaces for trains and a new track between Knaresborough and Cattal.

He said: "In a way I feel sorry for Network Rail having made this mistake, but I'm sure they will make it up to us in one way or another."

Mr Verster has agreed meet business leaders from Harrogate to discuss how Network Rail can help improve rail services to the town.

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