Controversial rail plans would only shave 'a few minutes of the journey time from London’
Rail bosses have been told to hit the brakes on controversial plans to cut rail services in Northumberland in the hope of “shaving a few minutes of the journey time from London”.
North East leaders have predicted a “disaster” for the region if the proposals are allowed to go ahead in their current form.
Berwick and Morpeth look set to be two of the stations hardest hit if the new timetables are allowed to come into effect next year.
“What this is about is shaving a few minutes off the journey time from London to the North and encouraging more people to use a quicker train,” said Glen Sanderson, leader of Northumberland County Council.
“To do that, because of the inadequacies of the East Coast Mainline as it is now, it means taking slower trains off the track and that would be a huge backward step.
“We’ve made great progress in recent years encouraging more train operators to use stations like Berwick and Morpeth, and more and more people are using those stations.
“We need to encourage this consultation to put everything on hold until we’ve had a thorough look at the East Coast mainline, to resolve some of those issues [and] so trains can move quicker.”
Under the current proposals, no LNER services would stop at Morpeth at all between 8am – 8pm, Monday – Saturday, although other providers would continue to provide some services between Newcastle and Edinburgh.
In Berwick, passengers would see trains to London, York, Darlington, Newcastle and Edinburgh cut from one per hour, to one every two hours.
Alnwick, however, is likely to see an increase in available services, including northbound services running later during the week and an extra commuter train to Edinburgh.
Berwick councillor Isabel Hunter warned the town could see 72 fewer trains a week stopping at its station.
She added: “Berwick is a well-used station by residents and visitors for a variety of reasons, including commuting, business, hospital appointments and pleasure.
“The reduction of the trains stopping in Berwick will increase the carbon footprint, which goes against the proposals to reduce carbon emissions and also goes against the work to reopen small stations and platforms on the East Coast Mainline which were closed in the past.”