CAMPAIGNERS are urging York council chiefs to consider reopening a disused rail route at Monks Cross.

Members of the Minsters' Rail Campaign, along with Pocklington deputy mayor George McManus, have asked City of York Council planners to look at reinstating the line as part of a route to run from York to Beverley.

They are concerned that further development at the Huntington business and retail park, along with plans to develop land north of the centre, will put the future of the old rail route at risk.

Last week, the Evening Press reported how hundreds of jobs could be created if the ambitious preliminary plans, to increase business space at Monks Cross Drive, are given the green light at a planning meeting on Thursday.

The land is needed to address the growing need for business space in the city, but parish councillors at Huntington are dead set against the plans.

Now campaigner Philip Taylor, of the group, has written to council planners expressing concern that the Monks Cross expansion plans may impact on the disused rail route there.

He writes: "We are keen on a Monks Cross Station, if at all possible, to take trade away from the North Ring Road and to provide a station at another major retail, business and employment centre."

A Countryside Agency report last week suggested that action be taken to look at reopening a rail route from York to Beverley, as a way of relieving traffic congestion on the busy A1079.

Coun McManus said: "We need to pull out all the stops to get this potential route protected from development."

A council spokesman said: "City of York Council would be supportive in principle to reopening a railway line between York and Beverley, but there are significant practical issues over providing such a route along certain sections of the old line in York.

"Housing has already been built over the old line at Huntington and the development of the Portakabin site also dissects the old route.

"The impact of the proposed Monks Cross North development has to be considered against this, in that running any new link between York and Beverley along the old line in this area has already been made impractical by previous developments, although, of course, there is an existing 'live' route into the city through Strensall and Haxby."

Updated: 08:45 Wednesday, April 23, 2003