A £230M ambition to cut East Coast Mainline (ECM) journey times and reinstate a railway line to directly link the North-East to Leeds, Harrogate and Ripon and has won backing from a leading authority.

North Yorkshire County Council said it wanted to see the track that was axed 48 years ago from Northallerton to Harrogate rebuilt to improve long distance connections.

It said there are several places in the county where failure on the congested ECM would result in complete shutdown with no services being able to travel to the North-East, a situation which would be exacerbated when HS2 trains are also running on the line.

The council's leaders said alongside providing resilience for the ECM to Tyneside and improving access for freight from Teesport and the Port of Tyne, the reinstated track would ensure North Yorkshire and the North-East were able to continue to grow and take advantage of the inward investment in the area.

Journey times from Newcastle, Durham and Darlington to Leeds would be cut by about one hour as rail users would no longer need to travel to York before changing trains.

As the previous Northallerton to Ripon line has all but disappeared, it would enable an almost straight track to be built along which trains could travel at up to 125mph.

The authority's Strategic Transport Prospectus states: "In the longer term (post 2030) it could also potentially help with plans and aspirations for housing and business growth in the central A1(M) / ECM corridor and it will help to enable the North East, Tees Valley and Yorkshire and Humber economies to act as a single market.

"Additionally it will remove three level crossings on busy A roads in Northallerton removing a major source of congestion and a constraint on the growth of North Yorkshire’s county town."

"Whilst delivery of this proposal in the Leeds area could potentially start in the period to 2030 later phases in North Yorkshire are likely to be delivered after 2030."

The council's leader, Councillor Carl Les, said he would be happy to discuss contributing towards a feasibility study with the Leeds Northern Railway Reinstatement Group, which has lined up other financial backers.

Dr Adrian Morgan, who has campaigned for decades to see the line reinstated, said the authority's backing signalled a major step forward for the scheme, which he believes would lead to two services an hour between Darlington and Leeds.

He said: "It is a big step forward, we can now go knocking on the door of Transport for the North."