A NEW Flying Scotsman train service for Morpeth has been hailed a success, but passengers have been warned it may be lost if not used.
The weekday express service from Edinburgh to London was launched by East Coast on Monday, making just one stop en-route to the capital in Newcastle.
The service leaves Edinburgh at 5.40am and after calling at Newcastle takes just two hours, 37 minutes, to arrive at King’s Cross at 9.40am.
A new connecting train has been provided from Berwick, which calls at Morpeth at 6.35am.
One of the first to try it out was South East Northumberland Rail User Group (SENRUG) Chairman Dennis Fancett.
He said: “I thought it went very well. I counted 16 people getting on the train at Morpeth, which was a very good start. The East Coast management team were on the train so I was able to have a useful chat with them and we arrived in London just after 9.40am, an hour earlier than we could before.”
However, Mr Fancett said there are no guarantees the service will be protected when the franchise is re-let so people should show their support.
“I would urge the residents of south east Northumberland to make sure they use this new service because we can’t say it will be kept forever if it is not used,” he said.
“My plea would be for everyone to try it out and use it. Having 16 people getting on at Morpeth awas a good start, but obviously it needs to be a lot more than that.”
The service has been introduced a part of the new East Coast timetable, which provides 19 new services each weekday.
The original draft was opposed by SENRUG for reducing some services to local stations, but the timetable was revised following consultation and the final version has been welcomed.
“We are very pleased with the East Coast timetable,” said Mr Fancett.
“The first draft was awful, but the consultation and the campaigning has paid off because they really did go back to the drawing board and had a complete re-think about Northumberland. To me that is very encouraging. It proves that it is worth having a group like SENRUG.”
East Coast Managing Director Karen Boswell said: “It’s about listening to what our customers want. Many of them have asked us to bring back train naming and to provide an early morning fast express service from Edinburgh, the Borders and North East England to arrive in London well before 10am.
“We’ll achieve both in style with our new Flying Scotsman.”