A BUSINESSMAN has pledged £60,000 to support a group's dream of re-opening a rail link.

About 1,000 people have signed a petition and nearly 950 have joined a Facebook page in the hope of trains once again running on a six mile stretch of track from Pickering to Rillington to speed up the journey from York to Whitby.

David Reall, the owner of Va-GTI Asset Management Group Hong Kong, contacted those spearheading the campaign to offer the money to carry out a feasibility study on the plans.

Mr Reall said: "Whitby is one of my favourite places and has been run down over the years by a loss of industry.

"From a personal point of view I am looking to re-locate one part of the pharmaceutical side of the company and think the town is trading on historic events, and it shouldn't be allowed to survive on that."

Neil Kipling, who set up the Facebook group and petition, said: "The study will come up with individual costing of the re-instatement and the feasibility of making it happen, and look at the present infrastructure that exists which might obstruct the line."

If the Rillington to Pickering line is re-opened, the other parts of the journey route run alongside trains on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.

Mr Kipling added: "This group has no desire whatsoever to damage the heritage line that's in existence on the North Yorkshire Moor Railway. We can so no reason why the two can't happily run alongside each other."

However, Philip Benham, managing director of North Yorkshire Moors Railway, said the organisation would not support any trains running alongside their tracks.

He said: "We would be gladly supportive of re-opening Rillington to Pickering but if he wants to extend trains to run over our line, then the business cost wouldn't stack up."