Club 55 rail offer withdrawn from Berwick station

Berwick Railway Station.
Berwick Railway Station.

SCOTRAIL’S popular Club 55 promotion will no longer be available for travel to and from Berwick station because of ‘unworkable’ restrictions demanded by East Coast trains.

The promotion had enabled anyone aged over 55 to travel from Berwick to any station in Scotland for £19 return during certain periods of the year when trains are less busy.

But when the offer restarts on 14 January, travel to and from Berwick is excluded because Scotrail and East Coast have been unable to reach an agreement over how the scheme will work.

Club 55, which has been available in Berwick since 2009, has previously included travel on selected East Coast services, with restrictions on Sundays. However, on this occasion, East Coast requested even more restrictions than in the past. These additional restrictions included a 10-day exception on East Coast services during the half-term holidays.

ScotRail stressed that the number and complexity of restrictions requested by East Coast would have made the deal unworkable - and particularly confusing for customers.

This means that it is no longer able to offer Club 55 travel to and from Berwick, although customers can use Club 55 tickets on ScotRail services between Edinburgh-North Berwick and Edinburgh-Dunbar.

A ScotRail spokesman said: “Our Club 55 promotion has grown to become our most popular ticket offer. One of its key attractions - in addition to being excellent value - is its simplicity, providing a flat fare for return journeys across Scotland.

“Regrettably, East Coast has on this occasion required a number of additional restrictions which would have made the offer confusing and overly complex. However, we hope to work with them again on future Club 55 offers.”

An East Coast spokesman added: “We regret the decision taken by Scotrail to withdraw East Coast from the Club 55 scheme.

“East Coast requested one restriction to be added, which would have meant Club 55 would not be available on East Coast services within Scotland plus to/from Berwick, during the half-term school holidays only.

“As a long-distance rail operator which carries many thousands of passengers on leisure journeys, we made this responsible request to prevent overcrowding, and to preserve the quality of service for all our customers. Unfortunately this request was refused by Scotrail.

“Despite this outcome, we hope to work with Scotrail on future joint promotions to benefit everyone travelling by rail, including to and from Berwick.”

East Coast also stated there is no reason why the Club 55 promotion could not have been made available for travel on other operators’ services, such as on Cross Country to/from Berwick.

Berwick passenger Derrick Joanes said: “Club 55 rail tickets have been very popular with Berwick residents who have gone on trips they would not otherwise have made, so this extra revenue will simply be lost. Similarly, people living in Scotland have also been able to visit Berwick which has helped the local economy.

“I would urge anyone who has enjoyed Club 55 in the past to write to both Scotrail and East Coast trains to express their disappointment at this lack of cooperation in a promotion that can only have increased revenue for the rail companies.”