Rail station’s passenger boost

Local rail user Paul Mills using the ticket machine at Alnmouth station.
Local rail user Paul Mills using the ticket machine at Alnmouth station.

PASSENGER numbers at Alnmouth Station have more than doubled in less than 10 years.

Future improvements at the site have also been earmarked while plans to create even more car parking spaces have been mooted, the Gazette has been told.

And a long-running battle to install ticket machines has finally been won, after their recent installation.

Rail users at the station have increased significantly, leaping from 86,436 in 2002/03 to 214,424 in 2010/11, according to figures produced in Northumberland County Council’s draft Public Transport Strategy, which is currently out for consultation.

This has been put down to a rise in the number of services which currently stop at the station and the increase of passengers travelling both short and long journeys.

And supporters say that these figures show just how important the facility is to the area.

Sir Alan Beith MP said: “Alnmouth Station is a vital part of our infrastructure and a much-loved and valued part of our community and many people will be very relieved at this announcement.”

The Gazette has been told that the increase in user numbers also justifies the creation of the car park on the northbound platform, which officially opened last year to ease traffic congestion along nearby streets.

However, plans could be in the pipeline for the creation of further spaces.

County councillor John Taylor, ward member for Longhoughton, said he understood that the county council and Network Rail were having discussions about this, but admitted that funding would be a key issue.

The installation of ticket machines will help passengers travelling in the evening purchase tickets when the ticket office is closed, as well as collecting tickets which have been purchased online.

A string of other improvements are also planned, as identified by the county council’s transport strategy.

These include the installation of DDA (Disability Discrimination Act) level access lifts, courtesy of the Department for Transport’s (DfT) Access for All fund.

A county council spokeswoman said that the authority was expecting to hear from the DfT about the funding in the spring.

On top of this, it is hoped that there will be upgraded waiting facilities, long-line PA, electronic information screens and cycle parking, to be financed as part of the Network Rail National Station Improvement programme.

The transport strategy shows that user numbers at both Morpeth and Berwick stations are also up and states that the county council will continue to campaign for more stops by long-distance, high-speed services at stations in Northumberland and for existing stops to be maintained.

User numbers at Chathill are also up, from 1,500 in 2002/03 to 2,645 in 2010/11, however Widdrington and Acklington are both down.

Widdrington’s figures fell from 5,481 users in 2002/03 to 5,119 in 2010/11, while just 108 people used Acklington in 2010/11, compared to 727 in 2002/03.