A RAILWAY partnership is steaming ahead with plans to increase train services in and out of Whitby.
Esk Valley Community Rail Partnership revealed its hopes for the future of transport in the town after news that a station is being constructed at James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough.
It is due for completion in March next year and it is anticipated that extra people will want to use the service as many Whitby residents use the hospital.
Alan Williams, chair of the partnership, said it was the organisation’s aim to double the amount of services and it was hoped that could be achieved in time for the station opening.
He told the Gazette: “They have finally got funding and planning permission. The challenge now is to increase the train services as we are anticipating a lot more people will be using it.
“Tees Valley has already got funding for additional trains from the Middlesbrough direction but we are working to getting more trains from the Whitby direction.”
Much of that work involves changing the franchise and despite problems with some being delayed until 2016 Mr Williams hopes the partnership can work with train operator, Northern Rail, to have the extra trains running in time for the station at James Cook in March next year.
It will also have to work on a bid to the Department of Transport for “several hundred thousands” of pounds to pay for an extra train as at the moment a single train provides the service between Whitby and Middlesbrough and spends the day travelling back and forth along the line.
It leaves Whitby roughly every three hours with services departing at 8.45am, 12.30pm, 4pm and 7pm. The journey currently takes around an hour and a half and is expected to take about 80 minutes to James Cook.
A second train would be needed if the frequency of services were to be increased.
Mr Williams said: “We have to talk to them about changing the present franchise rather than including it in the new one. Our objective would be to get the trains as soon as possible.
“What we particularly want is an early morning train so people can commute from Whitby along the Esk valley into Middlesbrough and of course going to the hospital. There is also a growing demand for people going to the college at Middlehaven.
“There isn’t a bus service along the Valley in any case over the Moors road so the train is the only public transport service that people of the Esk Valley have got.”