A RAILWAY line linking Harrogate to Northallerton, which has been closed for half a century, could be reinstated.

North Yorkshire County Council is carrying out a feasibility study into the possibility of reopening the line which would also connect Thirsk via Ripon.

There have been several attempts over the last ten years to look at reopening the line, which was closed about 50 years ago.

In 2006, a preliminary report was commissioned by the county council into reopening 11 miles between Harrogate and Ripon.

The study identified five new potential sites for a railway station in Ripon. The city was once the principal stop between Harrogate and Northallerton, but the main station building has now been converted into flats.

It also concluded a Harrogate-Ripon rail link would be viable, but the project was not taken any further.

Now the county council has commissioned a feasibility study into reopening the Harrogate to Hambleton route.

There are hopes to continue the line could eventually extend out to Leeds, opening up the dales and the west of the county to more tourists and rail commuters. The proposed line would also allow passengers direct access to the East Coast Mainline, and to trains to Scotland and London.

County councillor Bernard Bateman, from Ripon, said the report should indicate whether the route should terminate at Thirsk or Northallerton.

But he said it was most likely the line would be reopened to Northallerton, as it offered the easiest access to the East Coast Mainline.

He said: “It would certainly be a boost for tourism, especially places like Ripon Racecourse. It will also mean there’s a direct line straight to London via Thirsk or Northallerton.”

Although the line closed half a century ago, Hambleton District Council has largely preserved the route by keeping it clear of development.

“Hambleton council took steps to safeguard most of the line between Ripon and Northallerton some years ago luckily, as they put a restriction on building on the line,” said Coun Bateman.

The feasibility study was commissioned at an area committee meeting recently and should be completed over the coming months.