"A Voice for Durham Coast Rail Users"

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!