"A Voice for Durham Coast Rail Users"

Monthly Archives: April 2016

David Marshall, Transport Officer for Sunderland Council was our guest speaker. He spoke of Sunderland’s aspirations for the Coastline, particularly relief of capacity constraints at Sunderland station and between there and Pelaw. The next fleet of trains for Nexus would be ordered as dual voltage (1.5kv DC/25kv AC) with higher speed capability and improved crash resistance. This was expected to enable the lifting of the speed limit for freight trains on this section. Further aspirations for the Metro were to extend the system to Seaham and also complete a loop from South Hylton over the Victoria Viaduct to Washington and Pelaw. South from Sunderland a half hourly service was envisaged with the possibility of more through trains to York and, with electrification south of Sunderland, a through service Saltburn-Sunderland-Newcastle Airport.


The other topic was devolution and an attempt to understand the framework of bodies set up to promote transport in the North. The top tier was Transport for the North with representation from each of the 29 Local Authorities in the North and responsible for all modes of transport. Rail North, based in Leeds, had a lesser number of representatives and was the prime organisation for promoting Rail. In the North-East there was the North East Rail Management Unit (NERMU) which was a body comprising Nexus, the North East Combined Authority (NECA), Tees Valley Unlimited (TVU) and the Cumbria & North Yorkshire local authorities. Mr Marshall sat in a personal capacity on COMREG (Community Rail Executive Group) which, led by Arriva, consisted of members of local communities, Train Operating Companies (TOCs), the Association of Community Rail Partnerships (ACORP) and sustainability experts. The primary function of this group was to engage with local communities and to channel available funds to Community Rail Partnership projects and station friends groups. The North-East Business Unit (NEBU) was a TOC organisation which Arriva was required to set up as a condition of the franchise for the purpose of managing the North-East business.


So that’s all clear then!



There will be an open meeting at the Athenaeum Club, Church Street, Hartlepool commencing at 7.15pm. when David Marshall, Transport Policy Team Leader, Sunderland will address us on COMREG – the Community Rail Executive Group. All welcome.

With the start of the new franchise on 1st April, TransPennine Express Managing Director Leo Goodwin issued the following statement. Whilst TPE only links with the Durham Coast line this is indicative of progress to be made before the end of the decade.


Our vision for TransPennine Express is Taking the North further.    Our customers will immediately benefit from a range of improvements and from today we are introducing:

16-18 discounts – Half price travel for 16 to 18 year olds with 50% off our advance tickets

  • Jobseeker discounts – Half price travel for Jobseekers with 50% off our advance tickets
  • Catering – new and improved catering, available seven days a week
  • Delay Repay – compensation for any delay of 30 minutes or more to a journey

Other improvements will be implemented in the coming months and years.  The refurbishment of our Class 185 trains will start later this year, discounts for group travel will be introduced and we are also committed to improving our response to delays and cancellations, with an automatic delay repay system implemented within 12 months and Wi-Fi at all TPE stations from next year.  Stations will be improved, ticketing made simpler, services and tickets integrated with other modes of transport and a major employee customer service training programme with new jobs and apprenticeship positions introduced.

These improvements are just the beginning, delivered as part of an ambitious £500m investment programme.  At its heart are 220 new, high speed, carriages providing an additional 13m seats a year, reduced journey times and more luggage space.

I am pleased to advise you that we have signed a contract with Hitachi Rail Europe, one of a number of train procurement contracts we are currently negotiating, for 95 new Intercity AT300 carriages.  These carriages will make 19 five-car bi-mode trains featuring diesel and electric engines enabling the trains to use electric wires where available on the TransPennine Express network from 2019.

The majority of the carriages will be assembled at Hitachi’s Rail Vehicle Manufacturing Facility at Newton Aycliffe, County Durham.  New trains for the North, made in the North.

Full servicing provision for these new trains, including heavy maintenance, cleaning and stabling, will take place at Hitachi Rail Europe’s maintenance facilities in Doncaster and Edinburgh, while overnight stabling and servicing will be undertaken at depots in Liverpool, Newcastle and York.

These trains will be able to move at speeds of 125mph, with capabilities of reaching 140mph if the network allows for it in the future.  These speeds will reduce journey times across our network, helping to deliver on our promise to improve connectivity between the major towns and cities of the North and Scotland.  I look forward to welcoming you aboard these new trains in the near future.

Our plans and vision for the North will be delivered over the next four years.  We will be working hard to achieve these major improvements to create an outstanding intercity rail service that will take the North further.