Railways faces growing crisis as fuel costs soar

THE North Yorkshire Moors Railway has warned it is facing a growing crisis amid soaring fuel costs.

The NYMR witnesses a record number of visitors during last year but managers have expressed growing concerns over the rocketing cost of petrol and diesel.

The railway which runs between Whitby and Pickering relies heavily on an army of volunteers to continue to operate.

But general manager Philip Benham admitted many of the 400 volunteers cannot afford to travel often long distances to help run the route.

The average cost of a litre of unleaded petrol now stands at £1.28 while a litre of diesel is £1.32.

He said: “Like many tourist attractions in rural areas the dramatic increases being seen in road fuel prices are a serious threat.

For the NYMR this is a double whammy affecting not only visitors, but also the volunteers so vital to our operations.

“Often retired and on limited incomes, we are increasingly seeing cases where volunteers can no longer afford to make the journey to work on the railway. Some action by the Government to help stabilise fuel prices before the main tourist season would be most welcome.

A total of 355,000 passengers travelled on the railway’s trains during 2010 - an all time high and 5,000 more than the previous year, which itself was a record.

Research has shown that the NYMR is the world’s most popular heritage steam railway bringing in more than £30m a year to the local economy.

However, spending power was down last year as visitors were reluctant to part with as much cash as in previous years.

As a result the railway’s overall income of for the year was £25,000 less than in 2009.