The meeting on 5th July largely concentrated on the forthcoming Cross Country franchise consultations and the relevance to the Durham Coast. With DfT thoughts of curtailing one of the two services per hour north of York in order to release a path north of Northallerton, we would like to see this train (presumed to be the current Reading-Newcastle) diverted on alternate hours via the Coast This would give new direct travel opportunities to Yorkshire & the Midlands, and with the Grand Central service on the other hour (and assuming Grand Central are granted their sixth path), an hourly service all day from Sunderland and Hartlepool to York.
Other improvements we would like to see to the Cross Country franchise include
- Increased capacity – longer trains & more luggage space
- A buffet counter in each train.
- A change to the on-the-day reservation policy – no reservations once the train has departed its originating station.
Our earlier meeting with Mark Wilson and Steve Payne of the Tees Valley Combined Authority had suggested that TVCA was largely supportive of the above. TVCA would be publishing its Strategic Transport Plan for consultation in October. This covered Rail matters such as increased service frequency, Middlesbrough station (increased capacity), Darlington station (connections with HS2) and a speed restriction study of both the Coast line and Stockton – Northallerton in conjunction with Network Rail.
Network Rail have advised that they intend taking the Hartlepool Docks branch out of use by replacing the access points with plain line. The branch has not seen any traffic for many years. Three months notice would be required to reinstate the branch.
The next Open Meeting of the Coastliners Rail User Group will take place on Thursday 5 July 2018 at 7.15pm in the Reading Room of The Athenaeum Club. Church Street,, Hartlepool. The room will be available to us from shortly after 6.30pm and we will be welcome to use the bar until it closes not long after 10.30pm. All welcome.
The meeting will take the form of an open discussion with the principle topics being the consultation on the coming Cross Country franchise & feedback on a 3rd July meeting between our Chairman and one or two other delegates with Steve Payne of Tees Valley Combined Authority.
We must respond to the Cross Country consultation by 30 August and Coastliners members will have the opportunity on 5 July to help shape our response. Must all Cross Country services run via Darlington or could some of their trains serve Teesside and the Durham Coast? Should we oppose the over-simplistic notion that Darlington be considered to be the ‘railhead’ for Teesside and the Coast?