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Change of heart over threat to rail links?

Hopes have been raised that Northern Rail are planning to rethink plans to axe Beverley’s direct rail links with Doncaster and Sheffield.

As we’ve been reporting over the past three weeks, Northern were consulting “stakeholders” about the suggestion that all services on the Hull to Scarborough line would start or finish at Hull when new timetables are introduced next May. Currently it’s possible to join a train Beverley and continue through to Doncaster or Sheffield for connecting services.

Under the proposal, passengers would have to change trains at Hull and face a potential additional 25 minutes to journey times.

The public were not part of the consultation process, which finished on July 7th, and as a result Beverley councillor Denis Healy launched a petition urging Northern to think again.

That petition, with more than 400 signatures, was subsequently handed over and talking to Roy Woodcock on yesterday’s Afternoon Show on Beverley FM, Councillor Healy, who represents St Mary’s ward on East Riding of Yorkshire Council, revealed that a representative from Northern Rail has said they will take account of the public’s views, after attending a meeting of East Riding Council’s environment and regeneration sub-committee.

The committee had unanimously passed a resolution urging Northern to scrap their timetable proposal and Councillor Healy said he was now cautiously optimistic that will now happen.

“I think this is a perfect example of people power and the people have made it perfectly clear that scrapping direct rail links and adding to journey times would penalise them. I am hopeful we will now progress towards the outcome we are all hoping for.”

He said it had been wrong of Northern Rail not to include the public in any formal consultation over timetable proposals. He had previously told this station: “I only found out about this by chance and when I contacted Northern Rail they sent me an email saying they were consulting with stakeholders over the proposal. My response was ‘hang on a minute, who are your most important stakeholders? Surely your passengers who actually pay to use the service’.

“I said to them, ‘if you won’t consult this very important group of people, I’ll help you – I’ll do it’.”

Councillor Healy said the publicity given to the issue by Beverley FM had undoubtedly played a part in the pledge given by Northern Rail. “Within hours of my interview being aired the number of signatures to the petition swelled dramatically,” he said.

He also revealed that the Northern Rail representative attending this week’s committee meeting had given details of station improvements planned for the East Coast line, including Beverley. This would include new seating and ticket vending machine.

Beverley FM contacted Northern Rail for a comment on the latest development but so far we have not received a reply.