OFFICIALS behind plans for a £100m-plus transformation of Darlington’s Bank Top Station have confirmed it will remain the only one on the East Coast Mainline without a platform specifically for the London to Scotland service.

A meeting of Darlington Borough Council’s communities and local services scrutiny committee was told a bus lane-style route off the mainline at the station would enable operators to run more high-speed services.

Councillors heard that the proposed track changes would enable very fast approaches to Darlington and allow other trains to pass as East Coast Mainline passengers boarded.

After the meeting, the committee’s chairman Councillor Mike Renton said: “I think we lose a bit of prestige in the rail world because we are a mainline station that isn’t actually on the mainline.

“It’s like being selected for the England squad but not actually getting a game. I would have thought that having a platform on the mainline plus another would mean we could increase our mainline capacity, as we could potentially take in two and redirect any issues down the other if necessary.”

The meeting was also told the overhaul, which will see new platforms, a new station building, parking and an interchange for passengers, alongside other improvements, would also double capacity on Tees Valley and Bishop Auckland lines, meaning four trains an hour on the former and two trains an hour on the latter.

Councillors heard it was crucial the station was modernised and made more accessible and that if and when HS2 trains arrived in Darlington it would cut the journey time to London to one hour 52 mins.

The initiative is part of a Tees Valley-wide ambition of improving the extensive rail network to provide an alternative to cars, which will see major schemes to improve capacity at Middlesbrough, Hartlepool and Darlington stations.

The meeting was told Bank Top project was a key part of the authority’s regeneration plans, which would also focus on creating a Rail Heritage Quarter around North Road, improvements in the town centre to attract shoppers and its Central Park development created near the station.

The meeting heard reassurances from officers that safeguards had been developed to ensure the scheme, building work on which is scheduled to start in January 2023, would be completed before the the bi-centenary of the Stockton & Darlington Railway celebrations in 2025.

Councillor Nick Wallis said the scheme had made remarkable progress since a few years ago, when the timescales now being put forward seemed “highly unlikely if not impossible”.