Northumberland MP welcomes delay to controversial timetable changes
A delay to controversial plans to overhaul LNER’s timetable on the East Coast Main Line have been welcomed by Labour officials.
The new schedule was due to come into force in May 2022, but had faced a barrage of criticism from North East leaders and passenger campaign groups.
The changes would have seen services to Morpeth Railway Station cut by a third, including cuts to key commuter services into Newcastle and Edinburgh.
Members of the South East Northumberland Rail User Group (SENRUG) said the changes would have wiped out any improvements made to Morpeth Station in the past 15 years.
The changes would also have seen no new services being delivered to forgotten stations such as Pegswood.
A statement issued to LNER stakeholders on Tuesday said: “To ensure a new timetable can be introduced successfully and after careful consideration, the industry has agreed it will not be introduced in May 2022.
"This is a result of a combination of issues that need to be rectified before a significant timetable change can be introduced to operate reliably for customers.”
Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery said: “The news that the proposals to the East Coast Main Line timetable will not be going ahead is a testament to all those who campaigned against these changes that would have been so damaging to our already underfunded transport infrastructure.
“This was yet another London centric policy driven through by the government.
"The idea they can cut a third of services in towns like Morpeth and add no improvements to stations like those at Pegswood and then claim they are levelling up is laughable.
“I congratulate and thank all those who have campaigned so effectively against these changes.
"Now we have fought off further cuts, the fight must continue to get the improvements to our rail services that the area so desperately needs.”
Mike Greveson, Labour Town Councillor for Morpeth North, said: “It is fantastic to hear the news that the changes will be delayed.
“The effect this would have had on Morpeth Station would have been devastating for the town.
“We now must continue to stay vigilant and ensure that these proposed changes aren’t ushered in through the back door in the next couple of years.”
Vicky Oakley, Labour Parish Councillor for Pegswood, said: “It is incredibly rewarding to see all the hard work done by those campaigning pay off.
“But the battle is only just beginning. These changes would have seen no new additional services for Pegswood station.
“Towns like Pegswood are in dire need of more investment into infrastructure. This campaign is only the beginning in the fight to improve our transport services and get a fairer deal for the people of Pegswood.”
A spokesman for the Department for Transport said: “We have agreed that the planned introduction of the May 2022 East Coast Main Line timetable change will not go ahead. It is vital that the views of passengers and local leaders are heard and reflected in the timetable.
“The industry will also focus on delivering an improved, achievable new timetable, which fully considers the consultation responses by passengers and local stakeholders and delivers reliable services on the East Coast.”
The new timetable is now not expected to be introduced until at least May 2023.