‘Full Steam’ for East Cleveland Passenger Train Offers Spectacular Views

East Cleveland’s first passenger rail service in 50 years has approached a major shutdown.

A study by global consultancy Systra found a “strong business case” for reviving the route – and a lower price than originally thought.

Currently used only for freight through Boulby Mine, a new service could directly link isolated communities such as Easington and Loftus to Newcastle or Cumbria, bringing huge economic and tourism benefits.

A £46million bid from the Beeching Reversal Fund, announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson during his 2019 election campaign, is being sent out this week to ‘turn the obvious into reality’.

Passengers could enjoy views like this

The stunning coastal route is usually only seen by the polyhalite train driver of ICL UK.

Potential stops could include Easington, Loftus, Carlin How, Brotton, Skelton and even Saltburn ‘West’, opposite the Saltburn Learning Campus.

Independent Loftus adviser Wayne Davies, who campaigned for the service, said he was surprised by the amounts quoted.

He said: “Realistically, I expected it to cost an absolute fortune.

“We thought it would be in the hundreds of millions.

“While £46m is expensive for some, that’s around £7m per station.

“We didn’t expect to be able to make an offer to the Beeching Reversal Fund, I thought that would never even scratch the surface.”

The route taken by passengers

Costs could be kept low as the track is already in place and well maintained, although some improvements would be needed and speed will be increased for passenger trains.

“Boulby owns the line between the Skinningrove workings and the mine, and they took care of it,” Wayne added.

“They are eager to help us achieve what we want to achieve.

“The rest of Carlin How to Skinningrove is Network Rail.”

Routes could include as far as Cumbria and Newcastle if operators Northern Rail and TransPennine Express Trains are “ready to operate with”, he added.

There are obstacles to overcome; a maximum of five stations is permitted, due to existing freight commitments.

Exactly which communities will benefit are up for debate.

‘A lot of public consultation is needed,’ adds Wayne, ‘we haven’t done anything like this yet, although a lot of people want it, we know people who live near the railway line aren’t as keen on it. suddenly having passenger trains passing in front of their homes.

“We want to put stations where we think are realistic and achievable, we know we can only have five, so we have to be selective.

“We can go all the way to Easington, but it’s a question of whether there’s a big case for that.”

And while Boulby “won’t necessarily get a station anytime soon”, there’s always potential at some point, he added.

Talks can now begin in earnest with potential stakeholders Network Rail, mine owner Boulby ICL UK, British Steel, Northern Rail, TransPennine Express Trains.

Wayne is also lobbying Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen and Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP Simon Clarke has already said he would support the bid.

Wayne added: “It’s been talked about for a long time and no one has ever given a proper answer except to say ‘Boulby won’t agree, it’s too expensive’ – we’ve had it over the years.

“We have built our tourist offer, we must start capitalizing on it now.

“Ask anyone who has had a new railway line, it makes an area more attractive and increases property values.

“There are a lot of benefits to that.”

Simon said: “Clearly there are no guarantees, but every journey has to start somewhere.

“We are lucky to have the track already, it is a work proposal rather than something that needs to be rebuilt.

“We are in a decent position to make a real difference in the quality of people’s connectivity, in a part of the world that really needs it.

“Link it to the jobs created by Ben Houchen on the Teesworks site, and that seems like the best possible reason to get things done.

“It will join the dots with a workforce that wants opportunities, but can’t afford to move to them.

“East Cleveland is a beautiful part of the world, we don’t make our mark in terms of tourism.

“Take out Saltburn, which is a special case, and the rest of East Cleveland is completely unknown to most people.

“Shy kids understand now – we should ask that.”

The offer will be submitted to the Department for Transport this week, ahead of the next round of assessments in November.

Jose P. Rogers