Officials at York are anticipating around 2,000 people missing out on witnessing the inaugural £1 million Sky Bet Ebor on Saturday with a first planned closure of the East Coast mainline in 20 years causing travel havoc for those who intended to make the trip from the South East by train.
A regular train journey to York from London takes just under two hours but the closure of Kings Cross station over the bank holiday weekend has resulted in Network Rail advising passengers not to travel on services that start or terminate in the capital.
Journeys from London St Pancras International to York are showing on the National Rail site, including changing at either Chesterfield, Derby or Sheffield, but are estimated to take around three and a half hours and are expected to be extremely busy.
James Brennan, head of marketing and sponsorship at York, said: “We’re disappointed for southern-based racing fans as with all the work that has gone into hosting the first £1 million Ebor we wanted everyone to see it.
“We’ve had some disappointed people tell us they have been for a number of years but now won’t be able to attend.
“It’s hard to gauge just how it will affect the attendance on Ebor day but we’re estimating around 2,000 people to not make the journey as a consequence.
“The investment in the East Coast Mainline infrastructure will in time be a benefit for racing fans travelling to us, Doncaster and Musselburgh. It's disappointing for the works to take place on Saturday, although we do see the bigger picture.”
There is a possibility that London North Eastern Railway may in part recompense York for the disruption caused by sponsoring the Listed Garrowby Stakes on September 8, a race won last year by Limato.
Brennan added: “There are other routes to come, by St Pancras and via Sheffield, which takes longer but is achievable, and we would like to stress to people in Doncaster, Newcastle and Edinburgh that the line will work perfectly well for them.
“It’s just an issue for those in the south-east who will need to either take alternative trains or change their mode of transport if possible. We do provide plentiful parking here so there’s no need to fret in getting a car park space.”
It is a busy weekend across the sporting and social calendar with the third Ashes Test at Headingley, Rugby League Challenge Cup Final at Wembley and Leeds and Edinburgh festivals taking place.
Ed Akers, principal programme sponsor for Network Rail, said: “Major work to upgrade the East Coast Main Line will mean significant changes to services this August Bank Holiday weekend.
“We’re urging passengers not to travel on 24-25 August as there will be significant disruption.
“We appreciate this will impact on people, however this work is absolutely vital to make sure we continue to provide a railway which is fit for purpose and this upgrade will bring significant benefits to passengers once completed.”