Tyneside Left Out In The Cold as Government Panel Guides Northern Trains
"Rail campaigners in the North East are not happy that County Durham, Tyneside and Northumberland have been left out of the advisory panel set up by the government to help lead the Northern Trains franchise, which is now directly managed by the government as an Operator of Last Resort.
The North East Branch of Railfuture, the independent voluntary group that campaigns for a bigger and better railway, says that it is not right that virtually every area across the Northern railway network is represented, apart from the areas that are managed by the North East Joint Transport Committee.
Railfuture North East Branch Chair Keith Simpson said: “There is already a tendency of Northern’s management to over-focus on the Leeds – Manchester corridor, and not consider the requirements of key commuter routes into Newcastle. The absence of a strong voice round the table representing this region is a worrying further development of that, leaving us with little confidence that this region will, even under government ownership, receive the rail service it deserves which is so necessary to re-invigorating the local economy.”
“Who for instance will be considering the requirements of Cramlington, Northumberland’s largest town with a rail station with population of 35,000, but without a train arriving into Newcastle before 08:15, and then only an hourly service after that? And what about delivering on the objective to cut 20 minutes off the rail journey time between Teesside and Tyneside, by running passenger services over the Stillington freight line, or delivering new stations at Team Valley, Ferryhill and Gilsland?”
“We urgently call on the Department For Transport to appoint a local authority representative from the North East Joint Transport Committee, to augment the expert panel and confirm there is a level playing field across all the regions in the north.”
Railfuture North East represents an area stretching north from Teesside to Berwick, and from Carlisle in the west to Saltburn in the east. It has 7 key rail campaign priorities, details of which can be found on its website www.railfuture.org.uk/North+East+Branch. It urges those that support its campaigns to join the group to help its voice to be held more clearly."
Budget March 2020 - Darlington Station
"Overall, we welcome the Chancellor’s commitment to Darlington and the wider regeneration of the area that redevelopment of the station will bring. New platforms to the east of the current station will allow more southbound trains in particular to call at Darlington, without having to cross the northbound lines to reach the platforms. Increasing capacity through Darlington is a positive step which we support.
We are however concerned if the detail of the plan removes the ability for local trains from Bishop Auckland to run through to Teesside. This is an important facility as 50% of the passengers from Bishop Auckland are not travelling to Darlington itself but are travelling through it, so we believe it is important this facility to be retained."
New Trains Claim Angers Campaigners (December 7 2020)
"North East Rail campaigners were left fuming when Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said they enjoy brand new trains on the Northern network.
The alleged statement was reported in a communication to stakeholders, issued by Northern Railway, now directly owned by the government following its renationalisation earlier this year, following a ceremony to mark the withdrawal of the last Pacer train on 27th November.
Railfuture North East Branch Chair Keith Simpson commented “Pacers have gone - but new trains haven’t come. There is a large area of land between the Leeds - Manchester corridor and Scotland, which is called the North East. Leeds has new trains. Scotland has new trains. But here in the North East the newest train we have on our local routes is 28 years old. We are only ever given other regions’ hand-me-downs.”
“I would invite Mr Shapps to meet me at Newcastle station to update me on when the North East really will see new trains on its local routes.”
“We agree that Pacers were universally unpopular and not disability compliant. Yet, some people believe even a Pacer was better than no train at all. We don’t actually think Northern has enough trains to meet current pre-COVID demand. Take Cramlington for instance with its population of 40,000. The first commuter train into Newcastle doesn’t get into the city until the staggeringly late time of 08:22. And that train is full to standing even before it reaches Cramlington, so if you want a seat, you’ll need to travel an hour after that.”
“But when we ask Northern for an additional train an hour earlier, or if we suggest strengthening that first train to make it 4 coaches instead of 2, so there are enough seats for everyone, their reply is “we don’t have enough rolling stock!”. No commuter line in London would be allowed to have such an exceptionally poor service.”
Railfuture is the national group campaigning for a bigger and better railway, and its North East branch which stretches from Teesside to Berwick is calling for improved services levels, rail re-openings and more new stations across the region. New members are welcome and can join at www.railfuture.org.uk/join/"