London North Eastern Railway (LNER), which took over responsibility for operating East Coast Mainline services from Virgin in November 2017, currently operates one service a day each way between King’s Cross and Sunderland, Monday to Friday.
Now it has begun an eight-week consultation on a major overhaul of its timetable, due to come into effect from May.
The firm says the new-look schedule will provide ‘more services, more seats and reduced journey times and high levels of reliability on long distance services between London, the north of England and Scotland’.
Review of Spent Grain as it helps change the face of dining out in Sunderland city centre
Sunderland shortlisted for potential site of Rolls-Royce nuclear factory
Everything you need to know about Sunderland's Summer Streets as family festival returns this weekend
9 Sunderland restaurants ideal for pre / post graduation lunches
New exhibition raises a glass to the colourful history of Pyrex in Sunderland, one hundred years on
The changes will see LNER’s five trains per hour into King’s Cross increase to six, with 39 additional services per weekday and more over weekends, while London to Newcastle services will be around 10 minutes faster – but the Sunderland service will be withdrawn.
A company statement said: “Our Sunderland service, introduced by the previous operator in 2015, has never been as popular as originally hoped, with low patronage levels.
"This results from there being very good local train services between Sunderland and Newcastle, where customers can connect onto our frequent services.
“In addition, Grand Central also runs a direct Sunderland-London service, which is increasing by a further train service per day from May 2022, meaning that there will, overall, be the same number of Sunderland-London service as under the current base timetable.”
Jonathan Walker, North East England Chamber of Commerce director of policy said: “The whole North East needs to have far greater connectivity than we have at present to enable companies to get to their clients quickly and for people to travel to our region as a tourist destination easily.
"We have campaigned for more investment in the rail network along the East Coast mainline and will continue to push hard for this to be achieved through our Fast Track East Coast.”
The public consultation is now open and runs until August 5 to seek the views on the proposed timetable.
A dedicated website – www.lner.co.uk/Timetable2022 – is now live to allow people to view details of the plans and comment.