Calls for government to boost Sunderland's rail links

Niall Hodson outside Sunderland railway station.
Niall Hodson outside Sunderland railway station.

Councillors have called on the government to boost Sunderland's rail links through the introduction of new services.

A consultation has been launched on the future of the Cross Country franchise.

Liberal Democrats in Sunderland are urging the Department for Transport to consider options for inter-city rail services which start and end in the city.

They say that would give passengers more direct services and boost the city's economy.

The Cross Country franchise is set to be renewed in December 2019, and residents have until August 30 to give their views about the plans.

The current franchise runs services between Aberdeen and Penzance, via Northumberland, Newcastle, Durham and Darlington, as well as the Newcastle to Bournemouth route.

The Lib Dems want the services which currently start and end in Newcastle to be extended to serve Sunderland too.

Lib Dem councillor for Millfield and Thornholme and council group leader Niall Hodson said: "It is disappointing to see that the government’s consultation on the future of Cross Country services doesn’t consider the needs of residents and businesses in Sunderland.

"Although it is great to have direct services from Sunderland to London via York, it would be even better for residents and our local economy to see more transport links to the Midlands and the South West.

“Until a few years ago TransPennine Express services started from Sunderland giving us direct services to Manchester and Liverpool but since then we seem to have been consistently ignored and forgotten by train companies and the Government.

"When the TransPennine service comes up for review in a few years time, we will also be campaigning to have services extended to Sunderland.

"The services we are calling for could be easily done by extending services, that currently start and end in Newcastle, to Sunderland.

“Seeing as our city’s MPs have failed to bring this issue to the attention of transport ministers, local Lib Dem councillors will now be making the case to the government."