IMPROVEMENT plans for railway stations and services across North Yorkshire are on track to be brought in over the next two years councillors have been told.

Many smaller stations, particularly across the Esk Valley line over the North York Moors, are set for improvements in the next year with changes in timetables and better Sunday services for Northallerton and Thirsk.

North Yorkshire County Council’s transport plan aims to ensure 85 per cent of the population can reach one of the main HS2 stations - York, Leeds and Darlington - within 40 minutes with 70 per cent of the population able to get to a conventional railway station within 20 minutes.

Currently feasibility work on what can be done at stations at Northallerton, Thirsk, Seamer, Malton, Harrogate, Selby and Skipton is being carried out with reports due back next year and a new station set to be built at Cross Hills, near Skipton.

The Esk Valley rail user group is looking at options for the new potash mine being built near Whitby.

Improvements are planned at Danby, Castleton Moor, Glaisdale, Grosmont, Kildale, Lealholm, Ruswarp and Whitby ranging from new waiting shelters, help points, new ticket machines and better signs, which will be done in phases over the next two years.

More immediate work is being carried out on improving access and installing new ticket machines at Harrogate and Knaresborough.

Graham North, the county council's transport officer, said talks were underway to resolve problems over highway and level crossings at Malton and Norton when a new half hour rail service between Scarborough and York is introduced.

"All of the operators in North Yorkshire are refurbishing and modernising their trains with new interiors, wifi, power points and a lot more. Over the next two years there will be the gradual introduction of new trains across the North ready for full introduction in December 2019," he added.

Mr North told members of the transport scrutiny committee the eventual aim was to transform the Harrogate, Leeds, York line with better journey times, more modern high quality rolling stock and ultimately electrification.

Northern and Transpennine companies are looking at providing later evening services especially out of the major centres. He said there had been no further developments on the reopening of the Ripon to Northallerton railway line which closed in 1967.