WHITBY and Esk Valley patients are set to receive a boost following the news that Middlesbrough’s James Cook University Hospital is to soon have its own dedicated railway station.
£4.5 million has been allocated through the Local Sustainable Transport Fund and will be used to improve the rail network of the Tees Valley.
This will include the construction of a new station at the hospital which will sit on the current Whitby to Middlesbrough Esk Valley route.
The station is expected to open in 2014 and Whitby Town Councillor Niall Carson said that it is set to be a huge aid to both patients and commuters.
He added: “We have been campaigning for a few years and it’s finally coming to fruition.
“It’s wonderful news for the patients of Whitby that there will be good, quick, easy access right to James Cook Hospital.
“You will be able to get on to the Esk Valley railway at any point in the villages and just stop off at the hospital.”
Those wanting to visit James Cook hospital by car currently have to find a space at the hospital’s notoriously-crowded car park, which Coun Carson described as a “nightmare”.
However, a third of Whitby and the surrounding area does not have access to a private vehicle and so must rely on public transport, such as the number 93 bus service to Middlesbrough.
These buses are also extremely crowded during summer months and only take passengers to the centre of Middlesbrough, where they must then find other transport to take them to the hospital.
Trains also provide patients with the opportunity to “stretch their legs” and provides easy access for disabled passengers using wheelchairs.
Coun Carson said that for years it has been “obvious” that a station was needed at the hospital and he added: “We have been so blinkered, thinking about roads and cars.
“But the good old Esk railway, going back and forwards year after year since early last century, has kind of got overlooked.
“Now that the price of petrol is going up and up, more and more, people are now looking back to public transport.”
James Cook University Hospital is one of the largest employers along the Esk Valley and so the service should also assist commuters, although Coun Carson highlighted that more frequent trains are required on the line at peak times to maximise the impact the railway can now have.
The Esk Valley Railway Development Company is based at the Coliseum in Whitby and will soon be hosting its annual general meeting, where residents are invited to come along to discuss the further development of the railway service.
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