THE REINTRODUCTION of a “missing link” of rail network would cause the collapse of one of the region’s most popular tourist attractions, Whitby Town Council has been told.
A petition started by councillor Phil Trumper calls for the redevelopment of the Malton to Pickering rail link, which he believes would open up Whitby to better nationwide transport links.
However, Philip Benham, general manager of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, said he believed the heritage railway would be put at “serious risk” if a link was to be reinstated.
He explained: “Dramatic change would need be needed to the way our railway is currently operated - to such an extent that our viability as a major tourist attraction could be put at serious risk.”
If the line was to be installed Coun Trumper said he believed railway links to Malton, and on to York, would open Whitby up to a larger catchment area for tourists coming into the town, and employment and education going in the opposite direction.
However, the line currently occupied by the NYMR would have to be extensively upgraded, which would have a knock-on effect for the railway.
The heritage railway is able to operate a volunteer service due to a 25mph speed limit on the track. This would need to be adhered to by other trains using the service, making the journey from Pickering to Whitby substantially slower than the same journey by road.
NYMR is also planning to improve their Whitby service in a move they hope will bring an extra £8million per year to the area, and so they have not been able to provide support for Coun Trumper’s petition.
A similar stance was taken by Pickering Town Council, while Norton on Derwent Town Council, encompassing Malton, said they were in support of the proposals.
However, MP Robert Goodwill said that with many obstacles standing between the reintroduction of the railway, not least a Morrison’s supermarket which would need to be demolished, the project was a “non-starter”.
The route from Rillington Junction, on the York to Scarborough line, through Pickering onto Whitby was closed to passenger trains between Rillington and Grosmont on the Esk Valley line in 1965.
Coun Trumper’s online petition, which he is encouraging residents to sign, is entitled Reconnect the Pickering to Malton Rail Link and can be found at epetitions.direct.gov.uk