Politicians fear rail timetable could impact on commuters from Berwick and Morpeth and undermine Northumberland Line reopening

Plans that could cut rail services at some stations risk undermining the reopening of the Northumberland Line, regional leaders fear.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

There are major concerns that a new timetable on the East Coast Main Line, due to come into force in December 2024, could have a devastating impact for commuters in places like Berwick and Morpeth.

While final details of the rail industry’s plans are yet to be confirmed, it is expected that the number of trains stopping at some smaller stations will be reduced – in the name of LNER running faster services between Edinburgh, Newcastle, and London.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Members of the North East Joint Transport Committee (JTC) were told on Tuesday that there are expected to be “no great changes” to a controversial proposal which had been shelved in 2021.

Northumberland County Council leader Glen Sanderson at Newcastle Central Station.Northumberland County Council leader Glen Sanderson at Newcastle Central Station.
Northumberland County Council leader Glen Sanderson at Newcastle Central Station.

Another of its consequences would be only one service per hour being able to run from Newcastle to Manchester in order to allow a third train to London, due to capacity constraints on the ECML north of York.

The revival of those plans has left council leaders in the North East fuming, at a time when they are urging more people to use public transport and celebrating the upcoming return of passenger trains between Newcastle and Ashington.

Services on the restored Northumberland Line are due to start operating this summer, with JTC members having signed off on plans to integrate the route’s ticket fares with the Tyne and Wear Metro’s Pop card.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

But the prospect of other towns seeing their rail links reduced in the months that follow has become a source of huge frustration.

Northumberland County Council leader Glen Sanderson warned that the move would “significantly remove a lot of commuter transport here”, adding: “At a time when we are opening up opportunities (on the Northumberland Line), this seems wrong to me.”

Sunderland City Council’s Graeme Miller called the potential timetable shake-up “disgraceful”.

LNER declined to offer a new comment when contacted but said before Christmas that its plans would “be worth millions of pounds to the region’s economy”.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

A spokesperson added at the time: “To enable faster trains, increase services and passenger numbers, we recognise our enhancements may not satisfy everyone, but the proposed timetable will be of benefit to the greatest number of customers across the north.”