A NEW community train service is promising cheaper fares for North East passengers.
Tees Trains aims to launch a service linking Seaham and Teesside, which would run hourly and create up to 100 jobs.
The firm was established last year by directors who all have backgrounds in the rail industry.
The ambitious group hopes to offer an alternative to the current providers, saying their company is “quite different”.
David Masterman, who works full-time for Tees Trains, said: “The idea came from the sense that the current services are not what they could be.
“So we have spent the last six months conducting market research, and finding out what we need to do to get into a position to be able to operate.
“Importantly though, we are going to be operating as a community interest company, so we will not have shareholders to answer to.
“This means any profits we make will be put straight back into the company to improve the service and keep fares down.
“There has been a lot of debate about the recent train fare hikes, and I am really looking forward to the day when everyone else is putting their fares up and we can bring ours down.”
Mr Masterman said that there are still many hoops for the new company to jump through in Tees Trains’ bid to get up and running, but it is well on track.
“Our plan is to launch with two routes,” he added.
“One service going from Seaham to Teeside, and the other travelling further south into Middlesbrough.
“Everyone we have spoken to in the industry have been very supportive, and now it is just a case of working through all the practical and legal things.
“There will be six trains running every hour and eventually we hope to have four routes in operation. We also think we will be able to create 100 jobs for train crew and management. And we expect to be self-financing when it is up and running.”
The company also hopes to meet the needs of special interest groups with concessions and reduced rate travel, to encourage them to use rail as their first choice.