Extra funding for steam rail to aid expansion

Philip Benham
Philip Benham

The heritage railway which brings thousands of visitors into Whitby each year has secured major funding as a multi-million pound programme of investment gets underway.

The North Yorkshire Moors Railway has been given £500,000 to support a range of projects by a local Enterprise Partnership.

This money will enhance the railway’s £2.9m capital investment project, including the reopening of a second platform at Whitby Train Station.

The railway’s general manager Philip Benham said: “One of the first projects this will support will be improvements on the signalling where our rail line meets Network Rail’s which will mean we can handle more trains to and from Whitby.

“Another interesting aspect of this money will be that we will be recommissioning a signalling gantry that was the last of its type operating in the country.

“It was decommissioned in 2011 from Scarborough and as it was listed Network Rail couldn’t just cut it up so they offered it to us.

“It has been standing over the railway for the last 18 months and now we will be putting working signals on it.

“We have also got a lot of bridges on the railway. We replaced a metal bridge a few years ago and there are others that need dealing with.”

The £500,000 grant was awarded to the heritage railway by the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Local Enterprise Partnership, which aims to bring together businesses and councils across the area in an attempt to boost the economy.

Mr Benham added: “The economic benefit of this is partly from maintaining what we have got, but also having more people travelling on the railway generates more economic benefits for the region.”

Barry Dodd, chairman of the Local Enterprise Partnership, said “Improving travel connections across Yorkshire is a core component of the LEP’s strategy for developing the region.

“Not only will this help businesses to attract and retain high quality employees, it also gives us a new opportunity to attract tourists who will be introduced to the area with the launch of The Tour de France.”

With over a million visitors expected into the region for the famous cycling race later this year, the North Yorkshire Moors Railway is expecting an economic boost as tourists take the opportunity to experience the steam railway and surrounding country.

Platform plan

The NYMR is preparing to open a second platform and track at Whitby station.

This will allow the heritage railway to increase the number of trains arriving at the coast from three to five per day.

£1.4m in funding was secured from the government’s coastal communities fund, network rail and the railway heritage trust.

The project was originally supposed to be completed by April, but has now been delated and the NYMR is hopeful it will be ready in time for the main summer tourist period, starting in July.