EASINGTON MP Grahame Morris has invited Northern Rail executives and the Rail Minister to travel on the Durham Coast Line following "another weekend of rail chaos".

As the football season kicked off and Seaham Food Festival attracted thousands of people, travellers were left angry and disappointed as they were unable to board overcrowded rail services at Horden and Seaham train stations.

Mr Morris has raised the issue of overcrowding with Northern Rail and ministers, saying passengers being turned away at the new Horden Station and Seaham Station has become a predictable and regular occurrence.

Mr Morris said: “The problems of overcrowding on the Durham Coastline during peak periods and match days is not a new issue. It has been an ongoing and persistent problem for several years.

"The lack of forward planning to add additional capacity, particularly in advance of Horden Rail Station opening, is an example of the failures caused by our fragmented and chaotic rail services.

"After the latest disruption, I have invited the minister and Northern Rail executives to take the train between Seaham and Sunderland on a match day, so they can experience first-hand a ruined weekend and overcrowded trains on the Durham Coast Line.

"The Government are investing billions across the country in rail infrastructure, from HS2 to Crossrail, yet Ministers expect the Durham Coastline to run sub-standard services without sufficient capacity to meet peak demand. This situation is simply unacceptable and residents in East Durham deserve better.”

A spokesperson for Northern, said: “We apologise to any customers whose journeys may have been disrupted last weekend.

“The coronavirus pandemic continues to have a significant impact on many industries, including the rail network.

“In recent weeks we have seen an increase in the number of employees who have either tested positive for Covid-19 or have had to enter a period of self-isolation.

“Many of these colleagues are drivers and conductors and, as a result of the necessary Covid procedures, we have had no option but to cancel some services on routes across our network.

“We are doing all we can to provide the best possible service for customers in extremely difficult circumstances and, where we are not able to run rail services, we will work to provide replacement buses to get our customers where they need to be.”