IT was all celebration at Middlesbrough Station earlier today (December 13) after London North Eastern Railway (LNER) launched its direct service from Teesside to London – bringing a rail link between the two locations for the first time in over 30 years.

The daily weekday service in each direction will take passengers around three hours to reach London King’s Cross and will also benefit communities in nearby Thornaby.

As part of the service launch, the inaugural southbound service departed Middlesbrough this morning at 7.08am, before travelling to Thornaby. The train is expected to arrive at London King’s Cross via York at 10.22am.

Read more: LNER Azuma arrives in Middlesbrough ahead of services to London

Now that the rail route is launched, users of the train will be able to access Northbound services from London at 3.25pm each weekday, which will stop at York and arrive in Thornaby at 6.08pm and Middlesbrough at 6.18pm.

David Horne, managing director of LNER, who attended the launch of the train service today, said: “We’re proud to be introducing our revolutionary Azuma services between Middlesbrough and London King’s Cross.

“Their arrival will transform travel for customers and generate further economic opportunities for the area, with our direct services making business, leisure and international travel simpler, smarter and greener.”

The Northern Echo: David Horne, managing director of LNER, launches the train service from Middlesbrough to London.David Horne, managing director of LNER, launches the train service from Middlesbrough to London.

As well as the benefit for rail passengers in Middlesbrough, LNER have set out its green agenda for the trains.

By using bi-mode trains on overhead wires, the rail provider says that around 220 miles of the 239-mile journey will be done on electric power.

At the launch of the direct Middlesbrough to London route, MP for Middlesbrough, Andy McDonald, described the announcement as “Christmas coming early” after the politician has campaigned for the route for the last nine years.

Andy McDonald MP had this to say earlier today:

He told the Northern Echo: “We’ve looked to push forward with this plan for some time now. While it’s disappointing that it hasn’t happened until now, we won’t complain because it’s a great opportunity for the people of Middlesbrough and Teeside.

“For me, this is an early Christmas present, and after campaigning for it for the nine years since I was elected, it’s a victory for the North East.”

This most recent news about rail links comes days after it was announced that Newton Aycliffe had been selected to build 54 HS2 trains – in a deal that would be worth £2bn and bring 2,500 jobs to the UK.

Watch the moment passengers boarded the first Middlesbrough to London train this morning: 

Mr McDonald says these “constants wins for the North East” would bring a lot of benefits to Middlesbrough – both in a financial and tourist sense.

The MP also highlighted his long-term ambitions to electrify the train line between Northallerton and Middlesbrough, as well as electrify the whole link between Middlesbrough and London in the future.

He added: “I’ll continue to be a voice for the people of Middlesbrough and will keep on pushing the greener agenda both locally and nationally.

Read more: LNER begin testing of Azuma trains on Middlesbrough to London route

"While it’s important to get people on trains and take cars off the road, it’s also important to reduce emissions in trains and other public transport vehicles.

“If we managed to electrify the line from Northallerton to Middlesbrough, that would be huge for the area and something that is probable in the future.”

Despite Middlesbrough being given a “huge boost” earlier today, LNER confirmed that it would be looking to put on extra services from the town soon – following the completion of further works at the station.

The Northern Echo: Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen called the announcement "outstanding for the North East"Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen called the announcement "outstanding for the North East"

Proposals are currently being drawn up by Network Rail for the additional services – in partnership with timetable changes on the East Coast Main Line.

Tees Valley Mayor, Ben Houchen, has pledged that these improvements to public transport in Middlesbrough are not “the end of the road” for the North East.

He said: “I pledged to get direct trains to London, and after critical months of work, I’m delighted to see the first Azuma roll in. Phase one of our £34m upgrade is complete, with phase two following early next year.

The Northern Echo: The Middlesbrough to London inaugural service pulls into Middlesbrough Train Station this morning.The Middlesbrough to London inaugural service pulls into Middlesbrough Train Station this morning.

“This connection will become increasingly important as we drive forward Teesworks and the Teeside Freeport and capitalise on all of the opportunities these provide.”

Mr Houchen’s comments follow a tough time for the North East’s rail links, which saw the government snub the region during HS2 project proposals last month.

Instead of linking Leeds with Birmingham, London and other parts of the South, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the eastern leg of HS2 would be scrapped – leaving people in the North and the North East without the high-speed trains that would be delivered under the HS2 scheme.

Read more: Tributes as LNER manager who worked between Newcastle and Darlington dies

Middlesbrough Mayor, Andy Preston, added: “Middlesbrough is making huge strides towards an exciting and prosperous future, and this is another major milestone in that journey.

“We’re all about creating opportunity, jobs and aspiration for young people, and 21st-century transport links like this are key to making this happen.”  

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