HOPES are high that the east coast could soon get hourly trains and a year-round Sunday service – both key demands of the recently-formed Friends of the Bridlington to Scarborough Railway Line.
The long-awaited improvements could even start in two years' time – although public transport campaigners from the Filey area have been urged to treat the news with caution.
The route is currently run by Northern Rail, which has been criticised in the past for offering a "Cinderella service" on the Bridlington to Scarborough end of the line, compared with the much better service between Bridlington and Hull. Trains run about every 90 minutes, while there is no Sunday service over the winter.
Rail development officer of the Yorkshire Coast Community Rail partnership David Walford said the catalyst for the train company's current review of its services was Network Rail's 10-year plan for the region, which includes a range of infrastructure improvements.
He said: "We've highlighted the service gaps or where there is undue pressure on existing services, and it is a somewhat disappointing service between Bridlington and Scarborough.
"But we know how important it is to the tourist economy, and that any improvements could have a significant impact on tourism, so local authorities and rail partnerships have done a lot of work on looking at the practicalities of running an hourly service on a single-track system.
"What we've found is that it's quite feasible on the current infrastructure, and Northern Rail is giving it serious consideration."
Mr Walford said the main obstacle was the need for more rolling stock, but the train company would be receiving 182 extra carriages over the next five years from the Department of Transport as part of a Government programme of investment in the rail network.
Passengers are already seeing the gradual extension of Sunday services, and Mr Walford said if a decision was taken to bring in a year-round Sunday service, it could be in place in two years' time. The introduction of an hourly service would take a minimum of two years, he added.
Hertford ward councillor Godfrey allanson, who is a member of the community rail partnership as well as Scarborough Council's public transport forum, said although it was not a "straightforward" issue, what he had heard from Northern Rail at a partnership meeting this week had been extremely encouraging and it could only be good for the whole area.
The benefits would be not just to the local economy and tourism, but for commuters travelling to work in Scarborough, Bridlington and beyond, and the environment, as more people are tempted out of their cars.
l In further good news for the railways, Network Rail has confirmed it will be starting long-awaited reapirs at Filey Station next week.