NEW lighting and safety features are to be introduced to a Darlington railway station in an effort to make it more appealing to commuters.

Passenger numbers at North Road Station have increased in recent years after the Bishop Line, which runs between Darlington and Bishop Auckland, was designated as a community rail partnership, improving services and timetables.

A number of stations on the line have seen improvements to their facilities since the community partnership took over, and North Road Station has now been ear-marked for funding after passengers raised fears about security.

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Among the changes planned for the station are new lighting and signage, as well as improvements to the shrubbery and planting on the walk from North Road to the station platform.

The work has been planned by in partnership by Darlington Borough Council, train operator Northern Rail and the Bishop Line Community Partnership and will be funded by a grant from the Department for Transport.

Councillor David Lyonette, cabinet member for transport at Darlington Borough Council, announced the improvements at a meeting of the full council.

He said: “These are long awaited improvements. I was alerted to the lack of lighting up at the station by a student who uses the line twice a day and she said she felt very vulnerable, particularly in the winter months when it is dark both in the morning and the evening.

“I went up there for a look myself and there is no tannoy system to alert people to when trains will be arriving, or even if they have been cancelled due to the weather, and no link to the outside world if there is an emergency.

“We have worked with the rail companies to get most of these issues resolved.”

A council spokeswoman said: “The station is a vital link to Saltburn and Bishop Auckland and is being increasingly used by passengers.

"It is hoped the work will encourage more people to use the station which in turn brings benefits for the local economy in terms of passing customers for local businesses.”

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