Commuters slam cost of train travel

The cost of travelling by train from Alnmouth to Newcastle has been criticised by commuters.

Friday, 11th January 2019, 12:00 pm
Updated Friday, 11th January 2019, 12:04 pm
Alnmouth Railway Station. Picture by Jane Coltman

Following the 3.1% New Year price rise, a season ticket from Alnmouth to Newcastle now costs £2,180. It follows the introduction of parking charges on the northbound side.

Craig Cushing, writing on our Facebook page, complained: ‘It increases every year, mine’s gone from £52 a week to £64 (past 3 years), may not seem much but over the year it adds up.

“I’d understand if we were seeing improvements within the rail network but it gets worse year on year, every other day there’s delays or cancellations to services and the conditions of trains are a disgrace. Only people who commute daily will understand.’

In contrast, Stephen Mallatratt wrote: ‘Still cheaper than by car, taking in insurance, fuel servicing etc.’

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Local Labour Party and trade union members have been talking to rail passengers in recent days to find out how they feel.

Berwick constituency branch chairman, James Matthewson, said: “At Alnmouth, residents were not only facing the Tory rail fare hike, but were also facing the introduction of parking charges.

“Having spoken to a range of residents about these charges, a large mix of young and older people relying on Alnmouth train station for access to work and employment were concerned about the increase and the impact an additional charge will have on their daily commute, especially when you factor in this cost on a weekly/monthly basis.

“At Berwick, residents told me about their increasing reliance on rail travel for not just work but also hospital appointments, education and important visits to see family.

“Geographically, north Northumberland faces many complex and unique challenges, this is not a new development. So why is nothing being done to tackle one of the key features of rural poverty – transport, both access and affordability?”

An annual ticket from Morpeth to Newcastle costs £1,120, a season ticket from Berwick to Newcastle now costs £4,456 while Berwick to Edinburgh is £3,976.

Coun Georgina Hill, member for Berwick East on Northumberland County Council, says the Government must act to put an end to the ‘great rail rip-off’.

She said: “Berwick is situated pretty much at the half-way point between Edinburgh and Newcastle and should be promoted much more as a commuter town.

“Residents and the town’s economy would clearly benefit from this but the rail companies provide barriers with the absence of later trains, a more frequent service to other non-major stations and the high price of train tickets which compare very unfavourable with the rest of Europe.

“Every year rail commuters have to contend with inflation-busting price increases without seeing any real improvements to the services, in fact in many cases they are getting worse.

“The season ticket arrangements are a little better than a complete sham. The pricing offers not much of a saving in reality and the main benefit is convenience.

“It is time that these companies stopped taking commuters for a proverbial ride and the Government acted to end this great rail rip-off.”