The government’s message of “Build Back better” for the railways does not seem to have reached the ears of government-owned Northern. We always knew that very sadly, Cramlington and Morpeth were due to lose their direct services to Carlisle – only introduced a few years back when SENRUG pointed out the Carlisle departure left Newcastle a minute before the Morpeth train arrived – leaving a 59-minute wait. But now it seems Northern are planning to cut our through service to MetroCentre too, needed for both workers and leisure travellers, with all trains simply terminating at Newcastle. This can not in any way be described as “Build Back Better”. It’s true that train services would be more reliable if operators ran less trains and on less complicated routes, but pushing Morpeth services over the King Edward Bridge and on to the Tyne Valley Line is not that difficult – and it’s what passengers want. Rail services should follow passenger demands, not what’s easy to deliver.
In order to help revitalise leisure travel, SENRUG is also calling for 3 key rover tickets to be extended to include Cramlington and Morpeth. These are the Hadrian’s Wall Country Line Day Ranger, The North East Round Robin, and the Explorer North East Ticket (combined bus / train ticket). All 3 are valid for Newcastle – Sunderland, but not Newcastle – Morpeth. At last, Northern seem willing to make the move though they say they need the agreement of other operators (though they could surely limit it to just Northern trains). Anyway, let’s see what they can deliver.