DIRECT journeys from Scarborough to major cities could be scrapped as part of the Government’s multi-billion pound railway overhaul.
Network Rail announced on Monday that the Transpennine Express line between Leeds and Manchester would be electrified over the next decade in an effort to speed up journey times.
Chancellor George Osborne confirmed the proposals in his Autumn Statement yesterday, in which he earmarked £30 billion for infrastructure work.
However, rumoured plans to electrify the line up to York were not part of the announcement. It could mean that once the upgrades have been carried out, passengers travelling beyond Leeds, to Manchester or Liverpool, would have to change trains at Leeds.
This means that although city to city journey times will reduce by up to a quarter, Scarborough passengers could be forced to wait for connections, potentially increasing their journey times.
Currently diesel trains are used by the company across the line.
Matthew Hay, spokesperson for First Transpennine Express, offered assurances to passengers, saying: “If the electric lines do go up diesel trains can still run on these lines.
“First Transpennine Express is not planning on altering any of its current services.
“No changes will be made until the end of our franchise period in March 2014.”
Scarborough MP Robert Goodwill, who was at Westminister yesterday for the Autumn Statement, has written to the Minister of State for Transport Theresa Villiers about the matter. He is calling for the work to be extended to York.
He said that the plans “could be a threat to the ease that people can travel from Scarborough to Manchester”, adding: “Faster journey times are all well and good, but if you’re stuck with a 40-minute wait in Leeds, what good does that do?”
Rachel Lowe, spokesperson for Network Rail, said: “It is very early stages yet. It is up to the government to decide if and where they will put electric lines.
“After that it will be the operators to decide how to run the lines. Diesel trains can run on the electric lines, but it will depend on stock and the availability of diesel or electric trains.
“The franchises will expire in a few years, after which there will probably be a clearer picture of how the lines will be run.”