Objection growing towards proposals for rail franchise

A CrossCountry train in Northumberland. Picture by John Wylde
A CrossCountry train in Northumberland. Picture by John Wylde

A controversial proposal to cut train services at Northumberland stations is attracting a growing list of opponents, ahead of the consultation shutting next week.

The Department for Transport (DfT) is considering the future of the CrossCountry franchise and one option being mooted is to slash the number of local stops the service makes in order to reduce overcrowding, potentially impacting Alnmouth, Berwick and Morpeth stations.

Former MP Lord Alan Beith and current Berwick MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan have already spoken out against this.

And now, Alnwick Town Council and SENRUG – which campaigns for better rail services in South East Northumberland – have slammed the proposals.

The town council also strongly objects, saying any reduction at Alnmouth would ‘have a detrimental effect on Alnwick’s residents and the economy’.

The council adds that any reduction in rail services between Edinburgh and Newcastle via Northumberland would be in direct conflict with the aims of the flagship Borderlands Growth Deal initiative, for which improved transport communications in the English and Scottish Borders, including rail services, is recognised as vital.

The council has called for the DfT to use this opportunity to require, enable and enforce greater passenger and luggage capacity on CrossCountry trains, through insisting on the provision of longer trains and additional trains in the new franchise.

SENRUG has also strongly criticised the proposals.

It says that CrossCountry services at Alnmouth and Berwick should be retained at the same level with a modest increase at Morpeth, which should have a service every two hours.

However, it wants the times of the trains co-ordinated with those of government-run LNER, rather than have two trains in six minutes then nothing for three hours, as Morpeth currently experiences on Sundays.

SENRUG agrees CrossCountry trains are too crowded and it is the biggest problem facing the network, but suggests the answer is ‘longer trains with a significant number of extra seats’.

People are urged to respond to the consultation, via tinyurl.com/ycyn9xmg, before next Thursday’s deadline.