HS2: Campaigners say Berwick rail service will be worse

Campaigners say London to Berwick will take 20 minutes longer if HS2 goes ahead.
Campaigners say London to Berwick will take 20 minutes longer if HS2 goes ahead.

Campaigners have claimed that Berwick station would have a poorer service if the government’s £50billion high-speed rail (HS2) project goes ahead.

HS2 Action Alliance – the anti-HS2 national campaign group opposing the plans – says the government’s official HS2 business case published in October contains over £8.3billion of cost savings from cuts to existing rail services, and that both Berwick and Alnmouth would be affected.

Berwick-upon-Tweed train station.

Berwick-upon-Tweed train station.

They say journey times between Berwick and London will be 20 minutes longer.

The group also claims that direct trains between Alnmouth and London will have additional stops, which is likely to increase train overcrowding as well as journey times.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “One of the key aims for future service patterns is that all towns or cities which currently have a direct service to London will retain broadly comparable or better services once HS2 is completed.

“In addition, we are investigating how we can maximise the benefits of released capacity as a result of HS2.

Berwick-upon-Tweed train station.

Berwick-upon-Tweed train station.

“Decisions on future services will be taken nearer the time, and will be based on consultation and engagement with passengers and communities.”

HS2 Action Alliance local campaigns director Peter Chegwyn said: “The Government’s own report shows that both Alnmouth and Berwick will lose out under HS2.”

“Far from getting an improved rail service under HS2, Alnmouth and Berwick will suffer from service cuts with London-bound travellers facing longer journey times.

“Rail travel between Berwick, Alnmouth and London will be slower, not faster, as a result of the HS2 rail plan.

“HS2 does not benefit north Northumberland at all. Steam trains offered a better service to Alnmouth and Berwick than HS2.

The HS2 Action Alliance is calling on MP Sir Alan Beith to vote against the HS2 plans when they are debated in Parliament later this spring.

“Sir Alan has always been an outstanding constituency MP who has worked hard to improve rail services in his constituency,” said Mr Chegwyn.

“Many years ago when I lived in Alnwick and Warkworth, I joined him in campaigning to save train services from Acklington and Chathill.

“I am sure he will be concerned about any reduction of train services from Alnmouth and Berwick and will seek assurances that local rail travellers will not lose out as a result of HS2.”