A Transport Minister has confirmed there are no plans to reduce the number of services stopping at north Northumberland stations under the new East Coast franchise.
Liberal Democrat MP for Berwick, Sir Alan Beith, has obtained a firm commitment from the Under-Secretary of State for Transport, Claire Perry, and by Inter City Railways Ltd (ICRL), a joint venture of Stagecoach and Virgin Rail, that there are no plans for a reduction in services at Alnmouth or Berwick-upon-Tweed, with the possibility of more services being provided in the 2020 timetabling round.
The reliability of the services currently on offer were called into question by constituents in the run-up to the new East Coast rail franchise being taken over by ICRL at the start of next month.
Sir Alan said: “I am delighted to have received these assurances from the Under Secretary of State for Transport in a reply to a letter I wrote to her on this issue and I also held a meeting with Stagecoach/Virgin today where the commitment that that there will be no reduction in the number of trains stopping through Alnmouth and Berwick was repeated.
“The East Coast line linking London King’s Cross with Edinburgh is vital to the development of the economy and key services in the North East, especially in Berwick and Alnmouth. The line enables passengers to travel between the cities in four hours and once new rail stock is brought into service in 2018, this should be even quicker with improved services.”
This commitment will carry through into the new timetabling round due in 2020. Stagecoach and Virgin are planning on spending more than £140million to deliver a better service for passengers and this will start on March 1 with a 10 per cent reduction in standard anytime fares on long-distance journeys to and from London.
Sir Alan added: “In addition to better value for money for passengers travelling through Berwick and Alnmouth on this line, I also welcome the commitment made by the franchise group to establish new apprenticeships and traineeships in line with the Liberal Democrat Apprenticeships Policy.”