BUSINESSES could benefit from a boost in tourism levels as a half-a-million pound cash grant has been announced for the development of the North York Moors Railway.

Towns along the railway line, such as Pickering, could feel the benefits of extra business as part of a £2.876m capital works programme supported by the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

The £500,000 contribution from the LEP will go towards the modernisation of the infrastructure of the railway and build capacity to accommodate more visitors.

The development, which will tie in with future plans to create a second platform at Whitby train station, will come just in time for the Tour de France Grand Depart in July, when more than one million cycling fans are expected to visit the region.

The chairman of the LEP, Barry Dodd, welcomed the news and hoped local businesses would feel the benefit.

He said: “Not only will this help businesses to attract and retain high-quality employees, it also gives us a new opportunity to attract tourists who will be introduced to the area through the Tour de France later this year. Improving travel connections across Yorkshire is a core component of the LEP’s strategy for developing the region.”

As part of the drive to help businesses in the county capitalise on the boost to tourism and jobs, the LEP has funded business roadshows delivered by Welcome to Yorkshire.

A Welcome to Yorkshire Tour de France Business roadshow will be held at 1pm, on Thursday, March 6 at Helmsley Arts Centre, offering businesses tips on what they can do now to benefit from the Tour de France and improvements which will boost the tourism industry.