The North Yorkshire Moors Railway is celebrating after it was given approval to continue operating its services into Whitby for the next 10 years.
The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) gave the greenlight for an extension to the North Yorkshire Moors Railway’ Access Contract with Network Rail for another 10 years.
This means the popular steam and diesel heritage services has an assured right to operate until at least 2023.
Earlier this year, the NYMR was successful in securing a grant of £800,000 from the Coastal Communities Fund to be used in conjunction with £500,000 from Network Rail to reopen a second platform and improve passenger facilities at Whitby station.
Provision of the grant was conditional upon agreement being reached to extend NYMR’s track access rights to ensure the necessary return on this capital investment.
The approval by ORR, as is required for all track access contracts, is a major step on the way to ensuring the project is delivered according to the railway.
Detailed planning is continuing with Network Rail, aimed at carrying out the track alterations and station work, including construction of the new platform, over the coming winter in readiness for opening in April 2014
NYMR General Manager, Philip Benham, said: “This timely decision by the ORR is really good news not only for the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, but also for the development of tourism in the Whitby area.
“Our success in obtaining the necessary external funding being was based on a careful analysis of the economic benefits the project would bring and this announcement now brings delivery that much closer.
“We are most grateful to Network Rail for their continued support, along with our other partners, particularly station operator, Northern Rail and the Esk Valley Railway Development Company.
“We will be working hard over the next few months to make sure the project is delivered on time.”
NYMR has also recently secured further loan capital to accelerate the programme of locomotive overhauls.
It costs around £500,000 to overhaul the average steam locomotive every 10 years.
While the railway has enough engines to meet their service needs, including some on long term hire, there are other engines that have now been awaiting their turn in the overhaul queue for a very long time.
The additional funding package negotiated with their main bank, Santander, will enable the NYMR to accelerate this programme, improving the availability of locomotives for the extended service operating to Whitby and bringing greater interest for their visitors.
This coming weekend the railway is hosting its annual sixties weekend with themed events taking place with a mix of period locomotives, vehicles and live music at stations along the railway.
At Pickering Station there will be a 60s pop-up museum in the Education Centre on Platform 2, until Sunday and at Levisham Station there will be a real ale bar with live music between noon and 4pm with The Cavernites and Five Divide performing.
Goathland Station will also have a real ale bar and there will be live music from Jive Express and Tex Leon & Friends.
For more details of train times and events over the sixties weekend visit www.nymr.co.uk