TRAVELLERS were treated to a spectacular send-off at the launch of a new train service yesterday.

A jazz band, guests from the local community and rail enthusiasts gathered at Harrogate station to see the new service begin.

Local Liberal-Democrat MP Phil Willis officially flagged Arriva Trains Northern's new loco-hauled service on its debut run.

The service is part of a £1.5m investment by the company which is designed to improve the quality of weekday rail services by providing a higher degree of comfort to passengers travelling between Knaresborough, Harrogate and Leeds.

The locomotive-hauled train, which Arriva has leased for a 12-month period from English Welsh and Scottish Railway, has four Mark II air conditioned carriages providing 224 seats - and is the first loco-hauled train to be branded in full Arriva livery.

The larger train will provide a 7.58am service from Knaresborough to Leeds, calling at Starbeck, Harrogate, Horsforth, Headingley and Burley Park before arriving in Leeds at 8.42am.

It will also provide a 5.43pm return service calling at the same stations and arriving at Knaresborough at 6.27pm.

Managing director Ray Price said: "Today is a very special day for our customers - and everyone involved in the project.

"We promised that we would look at ways to bring about improvements to the Harrogate line and we are delivering that promise with the start of this exciting loco-hauled service."