Cramlington Level Access

Being asked to support a funding bid to provide level access at Cramlington was an unusually challenging proposition for SENRUG. Mindful that Network Rail has just spent £590,000 removing, cleaning and replacing the footbridge – money that would presumably be wasted if a new level access crossing is created – we believe it is time to reconsider SENRUG’s original plan of moving the entire station 200 metres down the track to a site adjacent to Manor Walks Shopping Centre, underneath the Beaconhill footbridge which already has level access both sides. This would give Cramlington the station the town deserves, with easier, extended parking avoiding the difficult access through Nelson Village, creating significant economic benefits for the town and making it easier to accommodate longer 5-coach trains. We fear considerable money could be spent on the existing station site without overcoming any of the inherent problems of its non-town centre location, insufficient parking, awkward car access, and absence of any bus services. Our final letter to TPE is available here.


5 thoughts on “Cramlington Level Access”

  1. It would be good to see the research underpinning the proposal to relocate the station, e.g.
    – Who are the potential visitors who would be swayed by what is a relatively low reduction in walking distance to the town centre?
    – What is actually being measured? The distance from the station to Manor Walks (arguably no closer) or M&S and the outer retail area?
    – Is parking actually cited as a reason for non-use of the current station? The current station car park is never full, even on busy midweek days.

    Other much more cost effective options will be available. A potential being an entrance to the retail area in the corner next to Dunelm with pedestrian crossings at the Station Rd roundabout.

  2. The corner of the retail park is a loading area, unsuitable for pedestrian access. The roundabout on Station Road is a busy intersection, at which crossing is and still would be dangerous – even with new crossings installed. It also does not address the step-free access problem.

    Better interchange between bus services and rail would undoubtedly increase ridership, especially if this was combined with an increase of direct destinations available through TPE expanding their service.

    It’s not just about the reduction in walking distance. The station is outdated and in an obscure location. It does not feel like a particularly safe place to wait for a train, which will be a significant deterrent for many potential users.

  3. (Hopefully a better formatted comment for WordPress)

    Apologies, I think you may have missed my point.

    Regarding the corner of the retail park, those affected retailers may be happy with a compromise of out-of-hours loading if they’re presented with evidence of increased footfall. Not so much if the relocated station prompts shoppers to move further afield to Newcastle, Morpeth & the Metrocentre.

    What is this better interchange? The hub of Cramlington bus routes is not at the proposed relocated station, does the proposal include the re-routing of the major bus routes? You say ridership would ‘undoubtedly increase’ (research? evidence?) but may require an increase in destinations (i.e. if limited on the current destinations – who from Morpeth would come to Cramlington rather than Newcastle & Metro Centre. Who the other way? research? evidence). Increasing destinations is introducing a dependency on the suggested value and additional cost for no evidenced benefit.

    You suggest that the current location does not feel safe and ‘will be a significant deterrent for many potential users’. Is this evidenced? What changes are proposed to resolve this?

    How do the residents of Cramlington view this proposal? As the OP states, we’ve seen that a bridge renovation can cost £500k, so how much will this relocation cost? Where would that rank in the priorities of the residents of a town suffering numerous other infrastructure issues? How do the residents of Beaconhill feel about further disruption, likely to be much longer than the footbridge replacement and added to the annual blockade caused by the flooded underpass?

    Ultimately, my original point stands. Without detailed research, analysis and evidence of the true value of this proposal to the residents and businesses of Cramlington, those with responsibility for decision making and budget allocation (whether NCC, CTC, Network Rail, Northern etc) will continue to dismiss this as little more than a vanity project.

    1. Regarding the retail park, there isn’t a route through from the NE-corner service yard. Even if it was possible, and could be done safely, the idea of opening this only during peak hours is ridiculous.

      The Cramlington bus stops on the east side of the shopping centre could easily be relocated to the proposed station site. All routes could be rerouted via the A1171 and/or Station Rd as required without difficulty.

      There is plenty of evidence that good interchange facilities improve rider perception and increase ridership. This is why Campaign for Better Transport, for example, is pushing for improvements in that area – nationwide. See the TRL report below for a research paper. Or do a Google search.

      The platform length at Cramlington is another issue which would be addressed with construction of a modern standard new station. Currently anything other than the Northern service does not fit at the platform, which discourages operators from stopping. Cramlington has a larger population than Morpeth, but a far inferior service, partly for this reason. I personally know several residents that take a bus to Newcastle to connect to rail services, even when travelling north to Scotland, as that is perceived as an easier place to interchange. I personally get driven to Morpeth.

      A new station would be adjacent to housing, a shopping centre, a fast food outlet, a main road and well-used bus stops. All of the above would add to a feeling of safety and security. It could also improve the vibrancy of the centre itself.

      If every project was dismissed as vanity then nothing would ever get done. The Northumberland Line was almost certainly demeaned as such 15 years ago. Similarly, a new station has been built to serve the small settlement of Reston in the borders.

      Of course work would need to be undertaken in all of the areas you mention, but some ambition is needed to create a public transport system people want to use, and which is attractive to businesses wanting to locate to the area.

      https://trl.co.uk/uploads/trl/documents/TRL593%20-%20The%20Demand%20for%20Public%20Transport.pdf

  4. There is a level access pedestrian subway under the main road from the Beacon Hill footbridge, to the M&S and Costa, which is entirely suitable and indeed we have walked it with managers from the train companies. I may have mislead people with the original blog post by saying “Manor Walks” when these shops are strictly “Cramlington Retail Park” which leads into Manor Walks. But there is no need to pass through any service area. We are talking about connecting the re-located station into the shopping area. So far, comments have looked at this from Cramlington residents’ point of view, but let’s also think about how to promote and attract new visitors to Manor Walks and the Retail Park. Many shopping centres are struggling at present; let’s work together to keep Cramlington vibrant and alive, an easy place both to visit, and to access the train service if you live here. It may also help to look at SENRUG’s plans of where we have proposed the station should be, which you can see at https://www.senrug.co.uk/MoveCramlingtonStation.php. Finally, think about those trying to visit the Cramlington A&E hospital, catchment area for which extends to Berwick, who would like the option of coming by train. We definitely need to integrate the train station with connecting busses, as our proposal suggests, along with better, easier to access parking, and taxis.

    Damian says “Ultimately, my original point stands. Without detailed research, analysis and evidence of the true value of this proposal to the residents and businesses of Cramlington, those with responsibility for decision making and budget allocation (whether NCC, CTC, Network Rail, Northern etc) will continue to dismiss this as little more than a vanity project.”. Obviously, we thank you for your comment, but would point out that’s exactly the kind of response we were getting when we first put forward our plans to re-open the Ashington Blyth & Tyne line (now called The Northumberland Line”). Through diligent and persistent campaigning, we have managed to change minds, get the research funded by the appropriate statutory bodies and demonstrate the economic benefits the scheme will bring. We are likewise making good progress on our Newcastle – Berwick local service, again, something several people said was pointless when we first suggested it. In the same way, we believe connecting Cramlington’s railway station to its shopping centre, sports and leisure facilities and bus services, whilst allowing and encouraging more train services to call here, will bring significant economic benefits for the town. What other town of Cramlington’s size would accept having its railway station in an inaccessible cul-de-sac with no bus connection and trains only every 2 hours at certain times of the day?

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