Whitby community praised for 'pulling together' to halt planned changes to rail services
The community of Whitby has been thanked "for pulling together" to halt plans to stop train services to and from Whitby continuing beyond Middlesbrough from May next year.
Northern Rail has said that following consultation it will not be going ahead with the changes, which people in Whitby had claimed would add 50 minutes to a journey to Newcastle.
Under the plans, all people travelling on the Esk Valley Line would have had to change at Middlesbrough to continue on to Whitby or to go further north to Stockton, Hartlepool and Newcastle
Now, Alan Williams, chairman of the Esk Valley Rail Development Company, thanked all the organisations and individual people who supported the company’s campaign.
“It was great to see the communities along the line pulling together in this way.
"But we need to be clear that, so far, this is only a postponement of the proposals for a year, not a withdrawal,” he said.
“Northern’s dismissal of the number of current through passengers as ‘only seven or eight per cent’ is both disingenuous and insulting.
“Only two of the six services a day from Whitby run through at the moment, which is why we were pressing for more.
“So let’s talk real numbers.
“Northern’s own pre-Covid figures suggest that at least 64,870 passengers will be directly affected each year.
“Can Northern really afford to upset and possibly lose that many passengers, as well as remove any chance of future growth?
“Our passengers tell us, and Passenger Focus agree, that having to change trains is the biggest single disincentive to their use of rail services.
“How can that be helpful in encouraging more rail travel for leisure and a switch from car to rail use as part of the Government’s green agenda?"
The train operator recently appeared before Scarborough Borough Council’s Places and Futures Overview and Scrutiny Committee to confirm the decision.Clare Waller, head of Timetable Development, told the committee the company would now look at the best way to make improvements to the line.
She said: “We obviously went out to consultation with our other industry partners on the May 2022 timetable change.
“We have now got to a point where we have received a lot of feedback and we really thank everyone for all that feedback but as an industry we have taken into consideration a lot of factors and it has been agreed that we are not going to move forward with implementing that timetable change in May 2022.
“This is [down to] a combination of issues and it gives a chance to look at all the consultation responses and reflect on that feedback.”
Councillors also heard that an additional call at Danby for the 6.30am Whitby to Middlesbrough service was to be added in the near future.