Council presses for better rail services for Northumberland

Northumberland County Council has pressed the case for improved rail services in the county as part of plans for a new service to Edinburgh.

Monday, 24th December 2018, 7:41 am
Updated Tuesday, 8th January 2019, 4:01 pm
Alnmouth Railway Station. Picture by Jane Coltman

From December next year, TransPennine Express (TPE) plan to extend the current hourly Liverpool to Newcastle service to Edinburgh Waverley.

The service will stop at Morpeth but as part of TPE’s consultation, it is seeking views on potential other stops, subject to track access being available.

In its response to the consultation, the county council has requested the following service improvements are given due consideration for the TPE service extension north of Newcastle from December 2019:

- Frequent calls at Cramlington Station to improve on the current hourly service and provide a viable commuting option for the residents of Cramlington;

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- Additional calls at Berwick and Alnmouth stations to fill gaps in the existing timetable, align with the council’s ongoing investment in North Northumberland and promote these communities as great places to live; and

- Additional calls at Berwick and Alnmouth to improve the late evening service provision, particularly at weekends, supporting the night time economies of Tyne and Wear and Edinburgh.

Coun Richard Wearmouth, cabinet member for economic development, said: “While we welcome the commitment to additional stops at Morpeth, we are also clear that there is a strong case for this proposed service to provide improved connectivity for Cramlington, Alnmouth and Berwick.

“Improved rail facilities for Northumberland are required to facilitate economic growth for communities across the county and increase the connectedness of communities by providing new travel options.

“Other benefits from improved rail services will arise from any shift it encourages away from the car for travel into Tyne and Wear and Edinburgh, particularly any consequent reduction in congestion and improvements in air quality.

Coun Wearmouth said one of the key objectives of the Transport for the North Long Term Rail Strategy was an aspiration for rail services to keep pace with the changing economy, with flexible working hours and increased economic and cultural activity taking place in the evenings.

He added: “The strategy says passengers should be able to access economic centres prior to 7am, and to depart later than 11pm, to enable full economic participation and to maintain rail’s viability as a means of accessing employment and leisure outside of traditional working hours.

“Improvements to rail services within Northumberland, specifically for Cramlington, Alnmouth and Berwick will help support this objective.

“We are looking forward to positive feedback and will continue to press for better connectivity on our rail network.”