Monday 1 April 2013

A Shock from Yorkshire

Industry watchers have been surprised that the proposal to adapt ex-Metropolitan "Underground" trains to run between Leeds, Harrogate and York have faded from public view. The reason for the change of heart is revealed by a press release issued jointly by First Bus and Transdev Blazefield at 0600 this morning. FirstBus runs buses in Leeds and York whilst Transdev (ex Blazefield) is the main operator in Harrogate.

A "behind closed doors" deal has been struck with the Department of Transport and Network Rail for a joint company, called initially "First Dev", to run trams along the line.
A tram borrowed from Edinburgh has been "gently" vinyl-ed and is shown here on display in Harrogate with First Bus supremo Giles Fearnley at the controls. Thankfully the tram was isolated and going nowhere!
Trams would start at New York Street alongside Leeds bus station and call at the iconic Queens Hotel for interchange with heavy rail services at the main Leeds station. Removing Harrogate line trains from the station platforms  would free up useful capacity. The route would then run on-street via Whitehall Road ...
.. and up a ramp here ...
... to join the existing formation, which would be used as far as central Harrogate.
The line would leave the old route by a ramp adjacent to Stray Rein ...
... where the line is in a cutting behind the fence shown. Trams would reverse at the present bus station and use street running through Starbeck ...
... then, just before the road dips to Mother Shipton's Well, the track would veer through ...
... Belmont Wood to rejoin the existing infrastructure. It would be the "old rail" route to Poppleton Station ...
... and on a little way to join Millfield Lane at the current level crossing ...
... and then along the Boroughbridge Road into York.

Cleverly, the planners have avoided adding to York's horrendous traffic congestion by routeing the new service through a piece of "green" space ...
... adjacent to Holgate Park Drive.
Plans for the disposition of infrastructure in York itself remain somewhat fluid, but the favourite idea is to rebuild the present footbridge at the end of Wilton Rise to take trams, cycles and pedestrians over to the "back door" of York Station.
Whether the City authorities will countenance an extension to a terminus in The Stonebow is debatable.

The pattern of the proposed service is for Monday to Saturday trams to run every 20 minutes through from Leeds via Harrogate to York. A 10 minute freuency would operate between Leeds and Horsforth using the new Network Rail turn-back siding. Likewise trams would run every ten minutes between Harrogate and Knaresborough. On Sundays, and to encourage tourism, there would be a simple end-to-end service every 30 minutes.

Final arrangements for finance are being sorted out over the next few weeks with FirstDev's bankers in Nicosia and, assuming no unforeseen hitches, work will start early in 2014.

fbb is enormously grateful for briefings from FirstDev's enthusiastic PR team; and especially for tireless explanations and copious cups of coffee provided by the delightfully patient Ali Porlof.
thanks, Ali

Exciting times ahead in Yorkshire.

 Next Bus Blog : Tuesday 2nd April 
And talking of Easter ...

fbb and Mrs were taking part in an open-air Good Friday service when the chubby one espied ...
 ... a poster in the window of Waitrose. "The Lamb"? of God? Very appropriate for Easter weekend but hardly a likely advert for anything in a supermarket. Sadly it was promotion for the Easter Sunday roast ...
... complete with mouth-watering pictures. The fbb's had chicken.

But with the help of some simple "cut and paste" on the confuser ...
... a more meaningful message may be manufactured.

Presumably the recipe referred to in the "real" poster is by Heston Blumethal (baldy experimental chef), rather then emanating from the erstwhile Middlesex village ...
... now subsumed into the estates of Hounslow?


  1. fbb - oh dear oh dear . . . . . one of the better ones that I've seen!

  2. greenline 727 : glad that you, too, think this scheme is "one of the better ones". We Harrogate residents are very excited about it. We would be fools not to support it!

  3. Thanks to the wonders of the confuser, it's not so difficult to deliver messages that are not quite what they seem.

    Good fun.

  4. Yes Petras409 : First Dev has go a road name wrong. Whitehall Road, NOT Whitehill Road (in Leeds!)

  5. Ali Porlof - excellent -it's all in the name !

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