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28 October 2014

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Beverley Station
On the platform at Beverley station

The Beverley to York Railway

By Chris Arundel.
A campaign is underway to rebuild a railway that once connected Hull, Beverley and York.

The project has moved on since the campaign to reopen the line was launched in 2001 by Philip Taylor and George McManus.

Development in 2006

Graham Stuart MP
Graham Stuart: MP for Beverley and Holderness

For the first time the idea of reopening the line has been discussed in Parliament.

In a Westminster debate in early June 2006 Graham Stuart the MP for Beverley and Holderness said: "Serious attention should be given to the proposed reopening of the Hull to York railway line.

"The Hull to Beverley line is still in existence, but the extension from Beverley to York was axed in 1965 as part of the Beeching cuts and has never been reopened.

"Recently, however, there has been growing political people pressure, from the ground up-for its return.

Paul barlotti - ER Council
Paul Belotti - ER Council

"A point worth making in that context is that transport in the region, particularly at the northern end of the A1079, is about not just reaching York but accessing Leeds and other areas."

Gillian Merron, junior transport minister, replied: "[The railway]...  would not be financially self-supporting from fare income and would require ongoing public subsidy.

"...It would be unfair of me to suggest that consideration of the proposal outlined by the hon. Gentleman is likely to be a realistic priority for the Government in the immediate future."

Philip Taylor Vice Chairman of the Minsters' Rail Campaign comments: "The Minister's response was so predictable. 

Philip Taylor
Philip Taylor - Minsters' Rail Campaign

"That's why I recommended the East Riding Council leaders nearly a year ago that the Council should focus on getting the route protected and not hold its breath about getting Government funding any time soon.

"It is disappointing the Minister doubted the line's ratio of benefits to costs and the availability of diversions and apparently expected it to be rebuilt and operated without ongoing public subsidy. 

"Carl Bro, the local authorities' Consultants, satisfactorily addressed these issues in their report.

"They indicate that even in the worst case its benefit - cost ratio is more than double the new St Pancras Eurostar Rail Link and that the public subsidy would be well below rail's regional average.

"It would be a route of strategic regional importance in the second fastest growing area outside London and I was surprised that the Minister thought it relevant to bracket it with under-performing surviving and re-opened 'branch lines'.

Views near Stamford Bridge
Views near Stamford Bridge

"The main priority must now be to get the route identified by Carl Bro protected through the York, Ryedale and East Riding Councils' Local Development Frameworks."

Developments in 2005

In June 2005 the Leeds-based engineering consultants Carlbro produced a report looking at whether it was be feasible to reopen the railway.

Their economic assessment showed a Benefit - Cost ratio of up to 2.04 over a 60-year period  - making it one of the most robust rail reopening proposals in England.

The present cost would be £183 million and a further £56 million has been added to cover contingencies.

Currently CarlBro predict up to 800,000 journeys per annum. Carl Bro recommend a half-hourly service so the route should be designed and costed as a double track railway.

David Walford, rail development officer for Community Rail Humber, said that passenger predictions in the report were "conservative". He said the Hull to Beverley to York route could eclipse the Hull to Scarborough line, which takes 1.3m passengers annually and saw patronage increase by 5%, 10% and 8% over the last 3 financial years.

Class B1 No 61276. Copyright Tony Ross.
Class B1 No 61276. © Tony Ross.

A new line would follow the original route as much as possible but there would be deviations to the north of Beverley and Market Weighton town centre, to the south of Pocklington, and to the north east of Stamford Bridge.

A new railway bridge would be built across the River Derwent. The line would reconnect into the Scarborough to York line just south of Haxby instead of Bootham Junction.
Only 2 houses would need to be demolished - both in Market Weighton.

What's happening now?

Paul Belotti is the forward planning manager at the East Riding of Yorkshire Council based at County Hall.

He told us that during the summer of 2006 people living in the East Riding will be asked whether they think the proposed route of the railway should be protected from further development to stop fresh obstacles being put in the way of reopening the railway.

It is thought there could be considerable opposition to re-opening the line was some people would find their homes would lie close to the railway tracks.


After leaving Hull the line ran through Cottingham and Beverley before veering off westwards, just north of Beverley station. The trains ran through Cherry Burton, Market Weighton, Pocklington, Stamford Bridge, Huntington and York.

Today the A1079 road connecting Hull and York is heavily congested with cars. With lengthy queues, some people say it is time to rebuild the railway. This feature looks at the history of the line, why it closed and the campaign to rebuild it.

Building the line

The line was built by the York and North Midland Railway. The first passenger train ran from York to Market Weighton on 3rd October 1847. But the railway stopped there. It was 17 years before the rest of the line, from Market Weighton to Beverley, was completed.

Kiplingcotes' disused platform
Kiplingcotes' disused platform

Lord Hotham, who owned much of the farmland between Market Weighton and Beverley, was reluctant to have a railway built across his estate on the Yorkshire Wolds.

He finally agreed to let the railway through - on the condition that he was provided with his personal station, at Kiplingcotes and that no trains ran on Sundays. The first through train from Hull to York ran on 1st May 1865.

Passenger trains

The line crossed mainly flat farmland, permitting trains to reach 70 mph or more between Market Weighton and York.

As early as 1910 an express was introduced connecting the centre of Hull to the centre of York in just 61 minutes. Today, cars take much longer to make this journey. In 1924 the journey time was cut further to just 56 minutes.

Diesels were introduced in 1957 and by 1960, there were a record nine passenger trains daily each way.

Market Weighton - rail centre

Until 1965, Market Weighton was an important railway junction. The Driffield to Selby and the Hull to York lines both ran through Market Weighton station which boasted its own WH Smith kiosk. In the summertime special trains from the West Riding ran through Market Weighton and Driffield, carrying holiday-makers to Bridlington and Scarborough.  

Class K1 no. 62007. Copyright Tony Ross.
Class K1 no. 62007. © Tony Ross.

In the first picture we see Class K1 no. 62007 passing with an express from Leeds to Bridlington, summer 1964. Market Weighton station is in the centre-right background, the goods shed in centre background. The line to the left went to Beverley.

The second picture shows Class B1 4-6-2 no. 61276 passing Market Weighton with a summer excursion from the West Riding to Bridlington in 1959. The station is right background.

Freight trains

The railway carried large amounts of freight. Steel was shipped from Teeside to Hull. Large amounts of timber and cocoa were transported and there was an evening fish train from Hull. The line carried lots of agricultural produce.

The Modernisation Plan

The future of the railway looked assured as the 1960's dawned with nine daily passenger trains each way, between Hull and York.

Each train carried 57 passengers on average and the line made an annual operating profit of £5,000. That same year it was announced that the line would be modernised.

The whole route would be controlled from one signal box and 19 of the 22 level crossings on the line would be converted to automatic half barriers. In May 1961, a contract for the work was placed with the engineering firm Westinghouse and tonnes of equipment were delivered to Pocklington.

Then out of the blue, in February 1962, it was announced the modernisation scheme was being suspended for "re-assessment". On the 27th March 1963, Dr. Richard Beeching, a businessman who had been called in by the Government to review Britain's Rail network, published a report, 'The Reshaping of British Railways'.

The Beeching Report

Dr. Beeching said the line itself made a small operating profit, but when "terminal" costs were taken into account (maintenance of locomotives, administration costs), the line made a £17,000 annual loss.

train line
Track line

He said most of the traffic on the line was between Beverley, Hull and York and intermediate stops like Market Weighton and Pocklington generated relatively little income. Dr. Beeching said passengers who wanted to travel between Beverley, Hull and York could do so via Selby and the line was unnecessary.

Countdown to closure

In 1964 British Railways announced plans to make the line single-track, further reducing operating costs. It is likely that had this been done and the modernisation plan had been carried out the railway would, by any assessment, have made a clear profit. 

Local authorities along the route protested about the impending closure and the official rail passenger watchdog, warned that closing the line would cause hardship. Despite the objections Barbara Castle, the Minister of Transport, approved the closure.

The last trains ran on a snowy Saturday 27th November 1965. The final train was the 9.42pm train from York to Hull.

Tracks rusted, weeds grew, buildings decayed. In January 1969, the British Railways Board agreed to sell off all of the assets on the route. The rails were lifted and the buildings and track-bed were sold off to the highest bidders. Housing was built on parts of the line.

In 1991 the East Yorkshire Borough Council announced plans to demolish the Stamford Bridge Viaduct, which carried the railway across the River Derwent. Rail campaigners blocked the demolition and the viaduct was repaired.

A railway reborn?

The Minsters Rail Campaign is a pressure group that wants to see a direct rail link re-instated between Hull and York. The group was founded in 2002.

train station

Moves to re-open the railway received a boost in April 2003 when the Countryside Agency published a report which said that re-opening the line was technically feasible.

In 1964, the East Riding of Yorkshire Council had fought to stop the railway being closed. Forty years later, in 2004, the present East Riding Council commissioned a report from the engineering firm, Carl Brothers, investigating whether the railway could be rebuilt.

Can it be done?

Over the past 40 years many parts of the track-bed have been redeveloped. A housing estate has been built over the route of the line in Beverley. This has also happened in Market Weighton, Pocklington and Stamford Bridge.

Even the line's supporters admit that if the railway is rebuilt it will not be able to follow the path of the original line the whole way. Bridges and embankments have been demolished and parts of the track-bed have been ploughed up. Re-opening the railway would be a major civil engineering project. 

last updated: 29/08/06
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Richard Clark
The sooner the railway returns the better! This would be great boost for the region! Would it also mean direct trains to Scotland from Hull? This would very convenient for travelers arriving on North Sea Ferries and heading for Scotland.

John Faulkner
The proposed rebuild is only attractive to the passenger operator. To make the line attractive to the likes of Freightliner and EWS,track connections at Hull to the docks will have to be made and at York the line should have a connection so trains can run directly on to the line from the north .Two incomes are better than one, but its going to cost more than predicted if you want to make a good job of reopening thid line

Margaret Nicholson
A great idea if it could be done. And why not through trains to Newcastle and even Edinburgh?

I would love to see the return of the railway. But would the proposed route to Monks cross benefit the everyday commuter or saturday shoppers? I think it would be a good link, but how about routing a line under Hull road, so the line would go directly to York station with an underground station and stops on the way. It must be cheaper and quicker than using a car for people to be interested.

A K Wise, Howden.
This railway must be re-built. The A1079 is a nightmare at peak times, & much traffic will be releaved as commuters use the railway. To currently travel from Hull to York by rail is not practical, and never was using the railway via Howden & Selby, often passing via Church fenton.The towns that the railway would service have become important commuter towns to principally Hull, York & Beverley, in an age where many times more people travel to work using their own vehicles out of neccesity, unlike the majority of those working in 1965 when the railway was closed. The buses that were heralded as an economic replacement to the trains in 1965 have not offered an efficient, speedy alternative to the trains.

George Hudson had vision.DR. Beeching had no vision.The waste of a railway is immesurable.For example how many lives have been lost on the A1079 in the last 40 years which might not have been had this rail link survived? I hope that these plans turn to fruition quickly and don't get stuck in the beurocratic treacle. This is a good cause for an EU cash donation. I have seen a similar railway resurrection scheme EU funded abroad, so this is possible.New stations should be as close to town centres as possible as regrettably people are very lazy in this car driven society.The prospects of this scheme ought to be good with the current price rise trends for road fuel. These are not going to get any better.A proper competitive fare structure and attractive train service should help success. A new halt at Monks Cross, York for example would be innovative. I had to carry out a final act for Dr.Beeching - to lock up Pocklington Station for the last time in 1965. I hope I will see it's revival - be it in a different form in the non too distant future.

Ian Paul Freely
Don't waste money on the railway line, it will never work. Better to improve the roads between the towns.

Gill Cutting
If the rail link can be reopened it would be a real success story both locally and regionally.

Re opening the rail link is a great idea from Hull to York. For a number of years now plans have been drawn up around Hull city and beyond to reintroduce the railways. But the Transport Minister is more into bikes than trains! As i travel each day to York and back by car you have my vote. Trouble is to re-route a new line would cost millions, who's going to pay? Getting people to change their habits and get out of cars is the next problem. When all is said and done a railway is not a solution but an alternative form of transport. No matter how good you made the railway connections, if cars are available and affordable people will use them.

Julie Ainsworth
As a regular commuter (on the dangerous and dreadful 1079) between Market Weighton and York, I feel that there are many very valuable arguments to endorse the re-building of the rail link between Beverely and York, which I completely support.

Frankly, I'm tired of ever increasing road congestion. If the authorities invested in public transport, we'd all benefit

Stuart Leeming
The railway should be re-opened along with the other local lines that were foolishly closed. Some lines that got the chop could still have been profitable especially this one. I live in Stocton-on-the-forest and have been to Stamford Bridge several times and it saddens me to see the old railway buildings and that amazing viaduct standing derelict.

neil dawson
i think it would be a very good idea, cutting traffic congestion, making beverly ,york and market weighton more desirable places to live .property prices would riseand there would be an increase in trade.ialso would like to see the reopening of the hornsea and witherensea lines.

Daniel chapman (lives on the track)
I don't completely disagree with Mr grant because the rail way would improve safety and speed too and from York to Hull, but it is hard to agree when I live on the actual rail road bed. It would be a shame to loose the local track' but the expense of paying for heavy engineering is going to take years to pay off. How do we know it won't fall into the same trap it did 42 years ago, and waste tax payers money for funding of this huge project. If it was to be built and finished and couldn't afford to run as planned, there could be a very big dispute across the whole of East Riding because of ambitious people, wanting to be written down in the history books. Who knows. There are many condemned bridges down the track that are beyond repair, fields and properties, whole estates standing in the way. Which add costs to re-routing access through towns and farm land without running into court cases and spending more public money, all in all bad idea...

David Grant
The alternative to reopening this line would be making the A1079 a dual carriageway along most of it's route. This would be far more expensive than reopening the railway. Subsidised trains - less fossil fuel used, safer and potentially quicker - what are we waiting for?

Steve - Market Weighton)
A small steam train would benefit and suit the area as well as connecting the towns together perfectly. We do not need a go fast noisy diesel monster with loads of carriages half empty.

Simon Everson
i didnt say there hadnt been any new lines i said no mainline lines tiny little branch lines i.e blackburn to heroe arent quite the same as York-Hull linking two cities

paul wood
i dont live anywere in the area discussed but in hull i make a comment because i did actually walk part of the track bed from kiplingcoates to market weighton and found that to my memory that most of that bed still exsists apart from an odd bridge that although had the pillows at bothsides of the road the bridge part ws missing and followed through to market weigton virtually to the town main street. i agree by modern standards the cost im sure would be astronomical but feel that the idea of opening such a track would certainly reep benefits alround as for the other tracks others mentioned hornsea ,withernsea. whilst on hliday recently in the isle of man they have steam trains running and the electric tramway and i actually took atrip from port erin to douglas which many of the locals regularly used in there daily lives so why not tracks like these here been used again go for it

People have been very hard on Dr. Beeching, but he was not an expert on railways. in stead the government of the day used standard practice and gavee the job to an expert in a completely unrelated field. there have been new branch lines opened n the last ten years, the robin hood line for one

Whilst in theory a railway connecting the East Riding with York seems sensible how many will actually use it? Whilst the A1079 is at times busy it still only takes on average 25 mins to travel the 11 miles from Barmby Moor to York. Using a train would take considerably longer when one takes into account travelling to a station, waiting for the train, the journey and the bus ride or walk to your final destination, having travelled on Londons rail network for many years I can assure you thatjourney will take far longer than 25 mins and will probably cost more. Whilst I agree with the railway in principle I do not believe that the massive investment required to build the infrastructure would be repaid in revenue from the railway given the low and sparsely population within most of the East Riding.

Julian Lane
The Beverley -York line should be re-opened as soon as possible. The Labour government must stop supporting road development and revert to their promises about public transport before they came to power! We must follow other european countries lead on developing a supurb rail system. I travel on the A1079 but avoid doing so if at all possible because of the road conjestion, re-opening the railway would stop this.

Daniel Chapman
I would just like to say that I happen to live on an estate called Aspen Close in Market Weighton. It so happens that the old rail system ran right through it. The estate is sat on the station house and where old the turn table sat too. But apparently the estate was never meant to stay standing for as long as it has. what is stopping the place to be demolished on all the built up areas the rail way used to be?

Andy Wilkinson
Step into the real world. the only way this would happen is if government targets and pollution levels actually meant anything. Lets face it, anyone with any land along the route would oppose it. a nice idea but thats all it will be.

David Bartle
The more railway lines the better. Any way of reducing road traffic is fine by me!

Simon Everson
it would bring tourism back to market weighton and pocklington which both towns deserve they are both beautiful country towns and maybe a special deal say half price tickets to pocklington + market weighton if you travel as a family on a weekend. also it would make york-hull take approx 30-45 minutes instead of the current 1 hour + 15 minutes, but you have to remember that it wont happen they're hasent been a new mainline rail line built for a long long while.

Nicholas Hewlett
It's hard to see why this line should not be re-opened, but will Selby retain its busy status? Will service patterns reduce traffic to and from Selby? I wonder whether people would really leave their cars and the A1079 for a train.

Paul West
I am suspect of the motives behind The Minsters Rail Campaign, the chairman of the group is a recently failed Labour candidate for Beverly. I feel the whole think is a stunt to get himself elected at some stage by appearing to fight the good fight. With money being cut back for investment in railways, it would amaze me if the government relesed funds for such a project. Public project such as these seldom run to budget so any estimates at this stage are pie in the sky, the whole project is good publicity for the chairman.

Yes the railway line should be re-opened like the Hull- Hornsea,Hull-Withernsea & also the Selby to Drified lines also should. Because it will benefit the places where the lines used to and did run.

The line should never have been closed and the growth of population along the line would make it viable today. Another big mystery to me is the Hull-Withernsea line. If not all the way then a park and ride at Hedon and railway into town must be the answer to congestion. Its £5.40 return from Hull to Beverley, imagine it would be similar from Hedon to Hull. Has to be the answer to conjestion from the east.

Yes the rail link should be reopend as should the Hull-Withernsea and Hornsea routes. The Government want us off the roads, so lets get back on the train.

Alexander Megginson age 7
I think the line can be reopened. It can be reopened for tourists from this country and abroad. It takes longer to go from Hull to York via Selby and it's less interesting. It can be used also for people who don't have any road transport like pedestrians. I don't think they should have closed the line in the first place. Not many people had cars in the 1960s because they were very expensive. Some rail- ways that were shut just had low profits. It will be quicker!

John Kilner
of course the line should be re-opened as should many that were axed due to Beeching's short term logics. Re-opening this line would be a cheaper, more environmentally viable alternative to dualling the A1079, which may be another alternative.

Mark Dyson
A good idea? Yes (it should never have closed). Will it happen? I'm not sure. Don't get me wrong, I am in favour of the re-opening, but I can foresee many, many, objections by people living near the railway, arguments over the new alignments (and there are quite a few deviations from the original route), public enquiries, and the cost escalating as a result. But if the will exists, I am sure it wil happen eventually.

Gary Spaven
The original decision to close the line was a disgrace. This was an inter-city link, not some scarecly used branch line.The figures used to justify the decision were massaged to make the argument fit.Every effort and resource should be made to re-open this line and many others, as the continued rise in demand for rail travel causes congestion on the main lines. The extra capacity is needed both now and for the future.

Roy Gregory

Tony J Griffin
Beeching should have been publicly disgraced before his death and New Labour need to remember that it was their forerunner Barbara Castle who sanctioned the line's closure. This government needs to show its commitment to public transport and re-open this line now, not in years to come, rather than messing about with road tolls!

Tim Moon
Opening any rural railway has so many benefits. It reduces road congestion, it reduces pollution, it allows greater access to rural areas for those without a car and thus develops rural economy. This line, and the many others outlined in the Countryside Agencies report of 2003, must reopen for the good of us all.

Steve Charles
The rail link sounds an acceptable option in principle but it would travel through a stretch of local nature reserve, public bridleway and national cycle route, as well as running alongside another nature reserve and causing likely wildlife disturbance. Any cost benefit analysis for the line re-opening must allow for the hidden costs of losing these public areas in order to provide a fair and accurate form of analysis.

KW, Sheffield
the prblem with monorail is that it cannot operate any kind of through service with other railwys so making it impossible to use the line for freight or extra capacity for the national rail network.

Gerry Taylor, Toronto, Canada ex. Selby
I think that those who push for the restoration of the line should continue their efforts. Trouble is that many £££ will be spent on studies, and it will take years before the "first sod" is ever turned. Where is George Hudson when you need him? He would have pushed it through...whoops,sorry, he did, didn't he?

David Vass, Barmby Moor
Rather than having a rail link from Beverley to York, would it not be more practical to have a monorail link? Surely it would be easier to have carrier poles through the countryside than a cumbersome rail track. The speed and efficientcy would be greater for commuters. Any comments would be welcome.

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