LONG-AWAITED improvements to the rail service between York and the Yorkshire coast will increase traffic congestion in two neighbouring towns, it is feared.
The increased frequency of trains on the Scarborough to York line after two new operators were awarded the local rail franchises last year mean there will be a service stopping at Malton station every half an hour in both directions from December 2019.
The significant improvements in the frequency, capacity and quality of services has local implications, not least of which is increased closure of the railway crossing between Malton and Norton.Ryedale council report
As part of the overhaul of services in North Yorkshire, old-style ‘pacer’ trains will be withdrawn by 2020, with new trains being purchased by Arriva Rail North and all other rolling stock modernised to include wi-fi and seats for up to 200 people.
But the extra trains passing through North Yorkshire will mean the level crossing barriers between the towns of Malton and Norton will now be down for up to ten minutes every hour.
In a report to be discussed by Ryedale councillors on Thursday, Graham North, North Yorkshire county council’s (NYCC) railway transport officer, said the time estimate was based on “initial and anecdotal observations”.
He added: “We will be working with Network Rail and NYCC Highways to investigate potential opportunities to reduce this time.”
Members of Ryedale council’s policy and resources committee will discuss possible ways to deliver better railway parking and measures to reduce congestion at the rail crossing, which separates the twin towns either side of the River Derwent.
It is feared that not planning ahead prior to the railway service changes could result in increased congestion, poorer air quality and “a failure to maximise the benefits of an improved rail service for local people and the economy”.
According to a report seen by councillors: “The significant improvements in the frequency, capacity and quality of services has local implications, not least of which is increased closure of the railway crossing between Malton and Norton.”
Other changes to rail services include an earlier morning train on the Scarborough to York line, leaving at 6am to arrive in York by 7am, meaning rail users could be in London by 9am.
There will be earlier morning and later evening trains all week and extra frequency at weekends, especially Sundays.
By December 2019 Arriva Rail North will have introduced a new hourly service running for the majority of the day, meaning there will be trains travelling between York and Scarborough in both directions and stopping at Malton approximately every half an hour.
Transpennine, which already runs an hourly service between York and Scarborough, is considering investing in the service to improve journey times.
It is investing in new trains with more capacity, so the five coaches have around 300 seats including First Class, and ‘enhanced services on board’.
The report said: “There is also potential for further additional services in future, including a new Scarborough to London service, however as yet this is not confirmed.”
It added that the changes on the York-Scarborough line, combined with changes made to the wider network, meant “a major increase in rail capacity together with some significant reductions in rail journey times to destinations that include York, Leeds, Manchester and London”.
It said: “There is great potential for modal shift from private car to public transport, potentially reducing pressure on the wider road network, including on the under-capacity A64.
“Realising the benefits of these changes could make rail a significantly more attractive option for commuters, open up greater employment opportunities (including higher paid employment) to people living in Ryedale and provide more opportunities for further public transport-based tourism growth.
“The improved accessibility of Malton and Norton (with the potential reduction in journey time to Leeds to around 40 minutes) and Ryedale has potential implications for the future role of the twin-towns and the area in the medium to long term.”