Services at region's "little used" railway stations under threat

First published in News

RAIL services at around 20 of the region's “little-used” stations are under threat, under new Government plans.

Ministers are proposing cutting the number of trains that serve 67 stops with “particularly low levels of use”, when a new contract is brought in for a private operator.

They include ten in North Yorkshire, four on Teesside, three in Tyne and Wear and a further five in Northumberland, The Northern Echo can reveal.

Some have extraordinarily few passengers, in particular the station at Teesside Airport which – notoriously – had just eight passengers last year, on only two trains each week.

Five other local stations attract fewer than ten passengers a day on average; British Steel Redcar (2.44), Battersby, North Yorkshire (4.31), Kildale, North Yorkshire (4.99), Dunston, Gateshead (5.93), Blaydon (7.59) and Ruswarp, North Yorkshire (8.07).

And the list stretches down as far as stops with nearly 10,000 passengers a year, but still small numbers each day; Marton, Middlesbrough (27.02) and Danby, North Yorkshire (27.13).

The department for transport (DfT) has vowed that 30-year-old ‘Pacer’ trains – condemned as “cattle trucks” by critics – will finally be replaced, as part of the new contract.

Now the consultation for the franchise seeks support for improving the quality of the trains “at the expense of some reduction in lightly used services”.

It asks: “What are your views on giving priority to improving the quality of the Northern rolling stock at the expense of some reduction in lightly used services (e.g. fewer calls at low-use stations)?”

The proposal is included in plans for the new Northern Rail and Trans-Pennine franchises, which are due to be awarded late next year and to start in February 2016.

The operators run services to Darlington, Durham City, Bishop Auckland, Chester-le-Street, Middlesbrough, Stockton, Hartlepool, Redcar, Sunderland, Newton Aycliffe, Redcar, Northallerton, York and Scarborough.

Controversially, the DfT has already warned that rail fares may have to soar to pay for the new trains, regardless of whether some services are culled at less popular stations.

Commuters in the region pay up to 60 per cent less than in other parts of the country for short journeys, according to officials.

Tom Blenkinsop, Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, pointed out that James Cook Hospital had just opened a new platform linked to Marton.

And he said: “They're probably less used because services are few and limited. South |Bank hardly has a service that stops there, so it's a bit cheeky for Northern Rail to highlight stations it hardly services.

“Perhaps if it increased services and improved rolling stock, it would improve the frequency of use.”

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin insisted that no decisions have yet been taken on the proposals in the document, arguing it was normal to seek views in a consultation.

Comments (4)

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10:34am Sat 26 Jul 14

Graeme_r says...

The British Steel stop is in the middle. Of nowhere and only of value to Tata workers who live near a railway station. The whole Tees Valley track layout is not fit for purpose.
The British Steel stop is in the middle. Of nowhere and only of value to Tata workers who live near a railway station. The whole Tees Valley track layout is not fit for purpose. Graeme_r
  • Score: 9

5:14pm Sat 26 Jul 14

jabdc5, the land that's still trying to recover from the last tory government. says...

We should be opening more stations and improving services not closing them!
We should be opening more stations and improving services not closing them! jabdc5, the land that's still trying to recover from the last tory government.
  • Score: 1

7:48pm Sat 26 Jul 14

oliviaden6 says...

The franchisee is out to save money so he will cut and cut and cut, How long will it be before the East Coast is altered so if we need to get a train to London we shall have to go to Durham or York, give these companies an inch and they will take a mile, given a chance they would possibly bypass Darlington and down grade the station. I certainly hope not!
The franchisee is out to save money so he will cut and cut and cut, How long will it be before the East Coast is altered so if we need to get a train to London we shall have to go to Durham or York, give these companies an inch and they will take a mile, given a chance they would possibly bypass Darlington and down grade the station. I certainly hope not! oliviaden6
  • Score: 0

10:37pm Sat 26 Jul 14

Voice-of-reality says...

More inter-city trains stop at Darlington than Durham. Indeed, I cannot think of a single one that doesn't. So your concern is entirely misplaced. As for service, East Coast is presently very good and one can but hope that it stays that way. My ticket two weeks ago cost less than the complimentary gin that I consumed and the hot 'light bite' was also very good; though I would prefer to see, if the franchise competition could address it, Schweppes tonic rather than Britvic.
More inter-city trains stop at Darlington than Durham. Indeed, I cannot think of a single one that doesn't. So your concern is entirely misplaced. As for service, East Coast is presently very good and one can but hope that it stays that way. My ticket two weeks ago cost less than the complimentary gin that I consumed and the hot 'light bite' was also very good; though I would prefer to see, if the franchise competition could address it, Schweppes tonic rather than Britvic. Voice-of-reality
  • Score: 0

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