The Scarborough & Whitby Railway was a railway line from Scarborough to Whitby in North Yorkshire, England. The line followed a difficult but scenic route along the North Yorkshire coast.
During its operational lifetime the Whitby to Scarborough Railway line became notoriously impracticable and difficult to work. The junction layouts at both ends of the line (Prospect Hill in Whitby and Falsgrave in Scarborough) meant that trains had to reverse direction in order to gain access to the route. These movements, particularly in the days of steam, were time-consuming and disrupted the movement of other trains. This problem was especially acute at Scarborough, where Central station was extremely busy during the summer months.
The route itself was steeply graded in both directions (1 in 39 being the steepest)
Its location along the coast meant that the rails were often slippery due to rain and sea mists. This made driving conditions in bad weather extremely difficult and great skill was needed from the engine crews to prevent trains from stalling on the climbs.
Services were dieselised at the beginning of the 1960’s. This did much to resolve the reversal issues at Whitby and Scarborough but even these new trains were found to struggle with the gradients and services were often disrupted when weather and sea conditions were poor.
Increasing road competition and a consequent drop in passenger usage outside of the peak summer seasons ultimately led to the route being proposed for closure in the 1963 Beeching Report along with both of the others serving Whitby. A public outcry followed, but this was not enough to keep the line open and it closed to all traffic in March 1965.
The track was subsequently lifted in 1968, although speculation about a potential potash mine near Hawsker meant that the track from there to Whitby remained in place until 1972.
The line is now used as a bridleway for cycles, pedestrians and horses, known as the “Scarborough to Whitby Rail Trail”, or “Scarborough to Whitby Cinder Track”