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Esk Valley Railway Line to close for bank holiday
A RAIL operator has defended a decision to close a line to the coast over the diamond jubilee bank holiday weekend.
Northern Rail has said that it had selected a nine-day period, starting on Saturday, for a £2m scheme to replace four bridges on the Esk Valley Railway Line, as it coincided with school half-term holidays.
The work, on the 35-mile line between Middlesbrough and Whitby and 15 other stations, will involve the replacement of Carr Lane, Danby, Duck and Thorneywaite bridges.
Network Rail said the work had to be carried out in the summer to reduce the risk of high river levels or strong winds causing further disruption.
A spokesman for the firm described the route as a crucial link for the community and the work would ensure a reliable service for years to come.
During the line’s closure, non-stop bus services will run between Middlesbrough and Whitby, and other buses and minibuses will call at stations in the Esk Valley.
The spokeswoman said: “The replacement bus service will operate on the same schedule as the train, so people wanting to go to the coast will be able to do so.”
However, scores of businesses in Whitby are understood to be concerned that the line’s closure will deter day-trippers because it is a popular way to visit the resort during a key period for tourism trade.
The Mayor of Whitby, Councillor John Freeman, said he feared that as well as reducing visitor numbers, the closure could result in a tremendous volume of cars in the town, which already suffered from congestion and a lack of parking spaces.
He said: “I appreciate that if the work is not done you end up with a disaster instead of an inconvenience, but I would have thought the logistics of knowing the number of pupils who use it against an unknown quantity of tourists would have made it easier to do this work at another time.
“I would say to anyone thinking of visiting Whitby over the bank holiday, please come, do not be put off.”
Trains that normally start and terminate at Nunthorpe, to and from Newcastle and Hexham, will not be directly affected by the work, but there may be some changes to train times.