Vital role of rail services stressed in House of Lords

Former Berwick MP Lord Beith has raised concerns over potential cuts to rail services in Northumberland.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 27 July, 2018, 07:00
Lord Beith

The concerns stem from an ongoing Department for Transport consultation on the future of the Cross-Country franchise.

One option being considered by the review is to reduced the number of local stops the service makes in order to reduce overcrowding.

Lord Beith, speaking in the House of Lords, said that Cross-Country trains were vital for passengers in Northumberland, and any reduction in service would impact the almost half a million passenger journeys a year at Berwick, Alnmouth and Morpeth.

He asked: “In his foreword, the Secretary of State states that his priority is to reduce crowding. Will he do that with longer trains, or by telling people in Northumberland to get into their cars while the trains whizz through the stations without stopping?”

Responding on behalf of the Government, Baroness Sugg, Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department for Transport, said: “The point of the consultation is for passengers to tell us what they want from that service.

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“I certainly do not want to alarm the noble Lord or the people of the north-east. I know how much the services are valued, and of course passenger views will be properly reflected before setting the minimum requirements for the new operator.”

After the debate, Lord Beith called on residents to make their voices heard by contributing to the consultation, open until August 30.

He said: “There is a real risk that our local stations will lose some of their trains. I urge people to respond to the consultation, which is easy to do online, making clear how important these services are to us.”

For more details of the consultation visit: www.gov.uk/government/consultations/cross-country-rail-franchise