Extra trains set to improve connectivity between Northumberland railway stations
A rail operator has announced plans to operate a new service on the Newcastle to Edinburgh route.
TransPennine Express has signed an agreement to operate five services per day in both directions from December.
Most will call at Newcastle, Cramlington, Morpeth, Widdrington, Alnmouth, Berwick, Reston (once opened), Dunbar and Edinburgh Waverley.
The service will operate until at least May 2023 and is the result of discussions between Transpennine Express, Transport Scotland, and the Rail North Partnership.
However, calls at Widdrington and Cramlington are subject to completion of industry procedures for operational and safety requirements, meaning these might be introduced later.
This announcement comes shortly after confirmation from LNER that the rail industry plans to introduce a controversial new timetable on the East Coast Main Line in May 2022 have been deferred. That proposed timetable would have seen a drastic reduction in the number of trains serving Morpeth and Berwick.
Cllr Glen Sanderson, leader of Northumberand County Council, said: “I’m delighted by this announcement. Northumberland County Council has been campaigning for better rail services for communities located along the East Coast Main Line, and our work has yielded results.
"This new service will greatly improve peoples’ ability to use the train to get to work, education and leisure opportunities. Taken together with the project we are leading to bring rail services back to the Northumberland Line, rail connectivity in Northumberland will be transformed.”
Cllr Martin Gannon, chairman of the North East Joint Transport Committee, said: “This is excellent news and shows how our region can improve transport links when we work together.
"Not only have we seen off the disastrous plans to decimate our rail service on the East Coast Main Line – for now at least – but it is now confirmed that we are going to see an exciting new service introduced that provides even better links between Northumberland, Newcastle and Scotland.
"We will continue to make the case for the government to invest in the East Coast Main Line in our region so that there is enough capacity for all of the services that need to use it, now and in the future.”
Matthew Golton, managing director for TransPennine Express, added: “We are thrilled to have been able to respond to this request by Transport Scotland and the Rail North Partnership to operate five services per day in each direction between Edinburgh and Newcastle starting from December 2021.”
In addition, at the May 2022 timetable change TransPennine Express will introduce two additional services per day operating between Edinburgh Waverley, Dunbar, Reston and Berwick.
Rail campaigner Georgina Hill, who also represents Berwick East on Northumberland County Council, said: “This is excellent news and hopefully the start of an enhanced local service. It is refreshing to see an operator timetable which will actually improve connectivity and the feasibility of regular rail travel to places for work and study.
"There is still campaigning to be done especially in relation to later trains and the weekend service and we must continue to highlight the economic and other needs of this part of the country.”