Mine company pledges £1.5m investment for rail services

19/3/04  The train leaves Sleights station bound for Whitby on the  Esk Valley railway line .
19/3/04 The train leaves Sleights station bound for Whitby on the Esk Valley railway line .

Extra train services will be put on in Whitby - on the condition that the potash mine is given the go-ahead.

York Potash, the firm behind the controversial mine earmarked for development at Sneatonthorpe, has pledged to plough £1.5 million worth of funding into putting on four extra return train services per day.

They would be on the timetable all year round and run on the Esk Valley railway line from Middlesbrough to Whitby.

Existing services would not be affected and the new services would coincide with shift change times at the proposed mine at 6am, 2pm and 10pm.

York Potash says it would allow another route for potential workers in the Esk Valley and beyond to travel to access the company’s park and ride service and get to the mine.

The move would provide a benefit to the town by allowing more services to Middlesbrough via James Cook Hospital and could benefit the night time economy by having a late night service from Whitby.

The funding of the services is part of a ‘unilateral undertaking’ which forms part of the company’s section 106 agreement. This is a financial undertaking whereby developers are required as part of their planning permission to give something back to the community.

The £1.5 million being put in by York Potash will fund the launch of the extra services for a period of three years along with engines, carriages and staff training. It is expected that they will become self-funding once passenger numbers increase.

Speaking on behalf of York Potash, Gareth Edmunds said: “We have already committed to encouraging sustainable methods of transport to our proposed mine and this funding could also provide a real benefit to other people in the area.”

If the York Potash mine is given the go ahead, then the company’s agreement would see the first payment made in December 2016 which would coincide with the expected completion of the mine.

Specifically it would create three services intended to meet with the company’s three shift changes at the mine and work in conjunction with a coach to take workers to and from the station.

In total eight extra train journeys a day would be made available. The important school train would remain and would not be affected by these additional services.

Gary Verity from Welcome to Yorkshire said: “This increase in travel options to Whitby and the Esk Valley could be transformational for visitors, residents and businesses alike.

“There is currently a limited service to Whitby that is well below the national average of other similar rural lines in the UK, this move is very much welcomed.”

Town councillor, Phil Trumper has been campaigning for extra rail links in and out of Whitby. He said: “If they are going to spend the money on extra rail services that can only be a good thing.

“The problem is Whitby is so isolated so it will benefit everybody in the town but what we need is money spending on improving the roads such as the Larpool junction and on the A171 at Normanby. There are going to be extra people using the roads and more traffic.”