YORK businesses have slammed a decision by rail bosses to close the East Coast main line on a busy bank holiday - saying it will hit the city’s tourist industry.

As reported by The Press earlier this month, no trains will be able to travel between Peterborough and London King’s Cross on Saturday, August 24 and Sunday, August 25, as work on the biggest upgrade to the route in a generation is carried out.

Rail chiefs say the work will bring long-term benefits, including extra capacity, faster services and increased reliability.

However, businesses and hotels say the decision will affect York’s tourism for the weekend, adding that the bank holiday weekend is one of the most profitable.

Philip Bolson, general manager, the Grand, York, said: “This is of utmost concern to us. This is the last bank holiday weekend and one of the busiest in terms of footfall, for the city.

“The Grand welcomes visitors from across the UK and this decision, at the height of the summer season, is very disappointing indeed.

“Equally disappointing is that there was no consultation prior to the decision and a scarcity of information since.”

James Cundall, chief executive of Lunchbox Theatrical Productions and the man behind Shakespeare's Rose Theatre, said: “There seems to have been no discussion from Network Rail with major stakeholders in the city on the timing which is both sad and arrogant.

"No one doubts the long-term benefit of the work done but this decision will impact York tourism and a host of other cities. To do the work on such a key racing weekend is detrimental and will have a negative impact on what is an already difficult year.”

Sean Bullick, managing director of Make it York, said: “York often welcomes high spenders from the south over the bank holiday weekend so the short-term effect of this decision could really hurt the city’s tourism.”

A Network Rail spokesperson said the upgrade was a "once in a generation investment into the East Coast Main Line".

The spokesperson added: “An upgrade of this scale does inevitably bring some disruption, although work on the scheme has been taking place behind the scenes without impacting on passengers.

“There is never a good time to upgrade the railway; we do so at weekends and bank holidays as it is a time when fewer people travel, however, we do understand that this will have an impact. We don’t want anyone to be disappointed, which is why we are letting people know of the changes to services now.”