Alnwick Probus

Northumberland Hall, Alnwick.
Northumberland Hall, Alnwick.

Tales from the track

The guest speaker at Alnwick Probus Club in September was Alex Nelson, who is the owner of Chester-le-Street and Eaglescliffe railway stations. It was a fascinating insight into how a private individual came to open not one, but two railway stations.

Alex was welcomed by chairman Ian Webb.

He explained that one day on the train going north, the train had to stop outside the ticket office at the old Chester-le-Street railway station. It was up for sale and boarded up to stop vandals. He thought, why not open it up again? Alex never thought the owners would ever expect the old railway station to be working.

In 1999 that is what happened. He opened it up as a private railway station, selling tickets. It now trades as Chester-le-Track.

Staff sell tickets all over the network, from phone lines at the station, 0191 387 1387 or 01642 200 140. Alex explained that they also book hotels and ferries at customers’ request.

Split ticketing, he explained, was a speciality, with customers benefiting from much cheaper fares than would be offered at provincial railway stations.

You can book by phone and tickets are sent by first-class post, or you can book online and print them. The purchase of advanced tickets was a speciality, and staff were fully up to speed with advising customers. One benefit is that no charges are made for buying tickets with credit cards.

Alex explained that he owned the www.nationalrail.com title, something our members did not know. He explained to our members all the different types of tickets and discounts available and supplied us with leaflets explaining these.

Alex said that 20 stations in the country are privately owned. He owns two of these, quite something in this day and age.

The vote of thanks was given by John Edwards after a long question and answer session from the members.

The next Probus meeting will be October 12, at Alnwick Cricket Club. Please do come along, you will be made most welcome.