Anger over change to evening rail service

Brought to you by the Morpeth Herald.
Brought to you by the Morpeth Herald.

A rail group has claimed there will be negative consequences to a decision that will change an important evening service to Morpeth.

The May 2016 timetable alterations by Virgin Trains East Coast (VTEC) includes amending a train from Edinburgh, which currently leaves the Scottish capital at 6.30pm and arrives at Morpeth Railway Station at 7.55pm.

It will now leave an hour later and the South East Northumberland Rail User Group (SENRUG) believes that this will majorly inconvenience commuters, business people with day meetings in Edinburgh and some day trippers.

The train that currently leaves Edinburgh at 6.30pm will now leave 12 minutes later, but will cut out the stops at Alnmouth and Morpeth as a result.

The alternative for the passengers affected by the change is departing Edinburgh at 6.05pm and then changing at Alnmouth onto the Northern service. They will find the advanced ticket price some three times more expensive as the journey now involves more than one operator.

SENRUG chairman Dennis Fancett said: “This is all in the name of achieving faster journey times from Edinburgh to London, but it is a classic case of not fully stress-testing the impact at Morpeth.

“The train doesn’t actually get Edinburgh passengers into London any quicker, it just leaves Edinburgh later in order to achieve that faster ‘overall journey time’ statistic.”

He added that the evening direct train to London currently gets to Kings Cross at 11.37pm, but the later train will not arrive until 1.05am “way too late to check in to a hotel or turn up at a friend’s house with any decency”.

“Those wishing to arrive in London before midnight will now need to leave an hour earlier at 6.54pm and change at both Newcastle and Doncaster – a complicated journey and again unlikely to have cheaper advanced tickets available as it involves three separate train companies.”

A VTEC spokesman said: “We’ve made some adjustments to the May timetable, which include speeding up some journey times to London to match customer demand.

“We very much value the feedback from SENRUG and have committed to working with it to take its views into account as we develop future timetables, including the December 2016 timetable.”