Rail campaigners have given a cautious welcome to the announcement of a government grant to explore re-opening the rail line between York and Beverley.
The budget earlier this month gave Beverley and Holderness MP Graham Stuart and the Ministers for Rail Campaign Group £50,000 towards the line, 56 years after it closed.
In a press release given after the announcement Mr Stuart said: “This is fantastic news for the local area, although this is only the first step.”
However, there are some concerns from locals that this will be another false dawn for the project. There have been two feasibility studies done into reopening the line over the last twenty years.
Former Leeds railway worker Michael Kaye from Wakefield pointed to projects such as HS2 getting a compulsory order, but the Beverley to York line being consistently shelved: “Why is there another study? Just get round the table and reopen the line, it’s a no brainer.”
Despite this, Graham Collett from local campaign group RailFuture Yorkshire viewed this as a step forward. He was pleased with the work they had done alongside the Ministers for Rail Campaign to get the funding.
“It is clearly a step in the right direction for Pocklington and Market Weighton.
“There is considerable traffic congestion on the A1079, which provides the only transport link to York.”
Since the line closed, the market towns have not been served by a rail link. Both towns have populations of over 5,000 and are on the main road between Hull and York.
Peter Himmerman, chair of the Ministers Rail Campaign, said: “Many changes have occurred since 2005 when [the last] report was published. Market Weighton and Stamford Bridge have probably doubled in numbers of residents.”
The Beverley to York railway line stood for a hundred years until its closure in 1965 due to the Beeching Cuts. Although much of the original track-bed and infrastructure such as the Stamford Bridge Viaduct still exist, a new line would have to divert around the centre of Pocklington and Market Weighton.
The route of the original line now runs through new housing developments, and the original Pocklington station has been converted into a school sports hall. A new station will have to be built on the outskirts of the town.
“The council has sold off sections of land to make rebuilding harder and more costly,” said Mr Kaye. “These things go round in circles and then it gets ‘lost’ until next time.”
In response to this, Mr Hemmerman said that when the last report was published: “There were no funding opportunities to build the line which now exist. There is now a positive attitude to rail in terms of climate change and sustainability.”
“People are realising that continued increase in personal road transport is unsustainable in the long term.”