SLOW PROGRESS with upgrades to the Esk Valley line from Middlesbrough to Whitby has been criticised by the Esk Valley Railway Development Company (EVRDC), the line’s community rail partnership.
The EVRDC is critical of North Yorkshire County Council for stalling on plans to upgrade the line using money provided in conjunction with plans for a new potash mine near Whitby and for excluding both it and the North Yorkshire Moors Railway from discussions. In 2015 York Potash gained planning permission for the proposed new mine, and Sirius Minerals allocated a total of £4.5 million to improve the line’s infrastructure, including for design and development works, with the aim of accommodating eight trains per day in each direction between Whitby and Middlesbrough, in addition to existing NYMR services which use the line between Grosmont and Whitby.
Infrastructure improvements proposed included the introduction of a passing loop, possibly in the Sleights area, to split the long signalling section between Glaisdale and Whitby, and the automation of points at Grosmont and Whitby. A 2015 study by Arup confirmed the proposals were feasible, with some challenges, at an indicative cost of £4.2 million.