A platform for better Morpeth rail links?

TRANSPORT activists at Morpeth have devised a masterplan as a platform to greater services and facilities for town train travellers.

New action body South East Northumberland Rail Users Group (SENRUG) will campaign for rail improvements across the Borough and further afield, with the aim of making train travel a more appealing prospect.

Group leaders, formally elected at the first public meeting on Thursday, will work with members, the public, County Council transport bosses, watchdog the North East Rail Passenger Committee and Getabout Rural Transport Partnership.

A priority hit list of objectives was the first step on the rails to a better train service:

More mainline intercity trains to stop at Morpeth: SENRUG is calling for more national network trains to call at the town to improve links North to Edinbrugh and South to London.

Better facilities at Morpeth Station: the action group will lobby for an all-day ticket office and waiting room, refreshment facilities including coffee bar, platform shelters, a reliable public announcement system, platform train information screens, increased car parking and improved access for the disabled including level access to the Northbound platform.

Re-opening of local stations and district lines: SENRUG will bid to have stations such as Stannington and Beale (for Holy Island) re-opened to boost train appeal for commuters and tourists. Links like the Morpeth-Bedlington loop and routes to Pegswood will be promoted.

More trains heading North from Morpeth: campaigners believe there is a strong case for extending the hourly local service up the coast to Berwick, instead of terminating at Chathill.

Train time alignment: SENRUG wants to see existing local services from Morpeth to Newcastle retimed to leave at the same minute past each hour during the day to achieve ease of use.

Better evening and Sunday services from Morpeth to Newcastle and back: there is presently no local Sunday service from Morpeth to Newcastle and weekday and weekend evening trains are sporadic. The last train back to Morpeth on a Saturday evening is at 8.59pm.

Better promotion of scenic Morpeth to Berwick line: the coastal route North of the town has been described as 'one of the most scenic lines in England'. Campaigners want to improve services and promotion of the line to boost tourism.

An end to train fare anomalies: a ticket from Morpeth to Newcastle is more expensive than Newcastle to Morpeth, a ticket from Morpeth to London is up to 60 more than from Newcastle to London. SENRUG will try to end such anomalies.

All trains South to stop an Manors prior to Newcastle: to attract more Morpeth-Newcastle commuters, all trains should stop at Manors, close to many offices.

Better correlation between Morpeth train and bus services: buses returning from Stobhill used to stop at the station to take train travellers to the town centre. Campaigners will try to restore such services.

Better services between towns in Northumberland: SENRUG will try to resurrect rail links between Morpeth and Ashington, Bedlington, Blyth and Cramlington and improve links to Alnwick.

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