Rail campaigners reveal Widdrington and Cramlington disappointment as new TransPennine service launched

Rail campaigners have slammed a new timetable which failed to include expected stops at two key Northumberland stations.

Tuesday, 14th December 2021, 12:05 pm
There has been criticism that a new TransPennine Express service does not serve all Northumberland stations.

TransPennine Express (TPE) announced the planned overhaul in September to the route between Edinburgh and Newcastle.

But despite raising hopes, trains will not be stopping at Widdrington, while passengers heading to Newcastle from Cramlington will have just one service a day during the week, with no option of a return journey by the same means.

Gerry Sothcott, chairman of Cramlington Development Trust, said: “It is indeed a bitter blow to discover that Cramlington – Northumberland’s largest town with a rail station, a population of some 30,000 and home to the only indoor shopping centre in the county – will miss out.”

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Mr Sothcott was backed by Andrew Carmichael, deputy chairman of the South East Northumberland Rail User Group (SENRUG), who added: “The residents of [these communities] have been promised a new rail service and were looking forward to it, but now find it has been cancelled.

“That is not acceptable, Widdrington, and indeed Northumberland’s other smaller communities, deserve better than just one train in the morning to Newcastle and one back in the evening.”

The new route by TPE has added five services a day between Newcastle and Edinburgh, also stopping at Morpeth, Alnmouth, Berwick and Dunbar.

Announcing the new route earlier this year, bosses at TPE admitted calls at Cramlington and Widdrington may end up being late additions to the timetable due to the “industry approvals” process.

A spokesman for Network Rail said: “We’ve been working closely with TPE on the introduction of additional services between Newcastle and Edinburgh, which will better connect passengers in the north and Scotland.

“This part of the East Coast Main Line is very busy, which unfortunately means there is a limit on how many trains are able to run.

“We’ll continue to work with industry partners and stakeholders to strike a careful balance between local, regional and long-distance connectivity to serve passengers across the route.

“As part of that work we’re looking again at planned major timetable changes on the East Coast, including how we can enable more trains to stop at more stations, while making sure we operate a reliable and safe railway for passengers.”

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