Protests mount in reaction to East Coast changes

PLANNED timetable changes on the East Coast Main Line are fuelling growing protests, with councillors and MPs unhappy about the implications for Darlington.

LNER is proposing to increase the number of trains calling at Durham, but the price of that will be fewer trains calling at Darlington. LNER said the number of its trains calling at Darlington would come down from 62 to 53 daily, while the increases at Durham, involving three trains every two hours to Newcastle, York and London King’s Cross instead of one an hour at the moment, will be counter balanced there by reducing the number of trains from Durham to Edinburgh to one every two hours. CrossCountry, however, will still provide an hourly service.

It is the changes at Darlington which have sparked most of the anger. Darlington Council leader Heather Scott has allied herself with local MPs Peter Gibson and Paul Howell. They are writing to all four of the operators which serve Durham, who also include Northern and TransPennine Express, calling on them to postpone any changes while a ‘fully co-ordinated’ public consultation is carried out.

Ms Scott told the BBC: ‘The top and bottom of what LNER want to do is to cut the journey time from London to Edinburgh by bypassing Darlington station. We are objecting to that. We’ve got the treasury and various other departments coming here and all the developments on Tees Valley. It is the wrong time to be looking at reducing trains stopping in Darlington.

‘We’ve also got money being spent on upgrading Darlington station and yet they are talking about taking trains away. It’s absolutely ludicrous.’

LNER said its timetable revision ‘better corresponds with passenger demand’.