Council backs calls for better rail service

Berwick Town Council has added its voice to growing calls for an improved local rail service.

Friday, 9th February 2018, 08:18 am
Trains cross the Royal Border Bridge in Berwick Picture by Jane Coltman

The authority wants to see the introduction of an hourly local service connecting Berwick with Newcastle and Edinburgh and other stations in Northumberland.

Network Rail is currently carrying out an East Coast Main Line (ECML) Route Study and is inviting comments from consultees.

Town clerk Gareth Davies said: “This is an opportunity for the council to influence not just Network Rail, but its partners, in pursuit of greater connectivity for residents of Berwick.”

Network Rail’s report identifies the need for power supply upgrades to the ECML and passing loop upgrades to support increased traffic and station re-openings in north Northumberland, such as Beal and Belford.

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Berwick Town Council has signalled its support for these goals.

It is also calling for the power supply upgrade programme to prioritise replacement and relocation of the substation at Berwick station to enable vacant land to the north west of the station to be used for car parking or public transport schemes.

Last month, a rail connectivy event was held in Berwick at which representatives from Rail Action Group East of Scotland (RAGES) and South East Northumberland Rail User Group (SENRUG), together with councillors from north and south of the border, outlined their hopes for a new local service linking Berwick with Edinburgh and Newcastle.

The poor connectivity between Berwick and other Northumberland stations was also highlighted, particularly Morpeth, where there is an eight-hour gap in the timetable.

Meanwhile, concerns about a revamp of Berwick railway station’s concourse were also raised by resident Bob Steward. The proposed scheme involves re-locating the current ticket office to the site of the present Café Express shop but Virgin Trains has given him assurances there are no plans to reduce the number of staff or make it more difficult to access advice and help as he fears.