New Northern rail service could travel through Sunderland and Hartlepool
More rail services could be sent through Hartlepool and Sunderland due to congestion on congestion on the region’s main trainline.
Travel operator Northern Rail had planned to begin running a new ‘Northern Connect’ route linking Middlesbrough, Newcastle and Carlisle.
But plans to use the East Coast Mainline for the scheme have been rejected by national rail chiefs due to high levels of traffic already using the line.
“The North East is expecting a new Northern Rail service, but that service’s introduction has been delayed,” said Tobyn Hughes, managing director of Nexus, the regional transport body.
“Northern Rail had applied to run on the East Coast Mainline, but Network Rail said it didn’t have capacity, although officers are working with them on a proposal to use the Durham Coast route through Hartlepool and Sunderland.”
Mr Hughes was speaking at Tuesday’s (September 17) meeting of the North East Joint Transport Committee (JTC), which oversees travel services in the region.
The JTC’s predecessor, the Transport North East Committee, previously backed proposals for the Northern Connect route to run via the Durham Coast line.
More services are planned for the East Coast Mainline however, with TransPennine Express (TPE) planning an extension of its hourly Liverpool to Newcastle services to and from Edinburgh to also call at Morpeth.
Martin Gannon, leader of Gateshead Council and chairman of the committee said: “I know we’re living through politically challenging times, but I think the news from Northern Rail demonstrates further the desperate necessity for investment to upgrade the East Coast Mainline.
“With HS2 the issue is major political considerations and with a General Election looming the Prime Minister probably thinks it’s better to kick that into the long grass.
“But the North East cannot afford to be left behind, we need to be connected or we will be even further economically disadvantaged – we want to move ahead but the Government seems to have disengaged from the process.”
Coun Gannon was backed by Wayne Daley, deputy leader of Northumberland County Council, who said the North East offered the most ‘bang for the buck’ from the Government’s infrastructure spending.