Berwick passengers “sacrifical lambs” to reduce journey times to London

Rail passengers from Berwick will become “sacrifical lambs” to reduce journey times to London from other stations, should LNER implement its new timetable next year.

By Kirsty Smyth
Monday, 19th July 2021, 12:18 pm
Updated Monday, 19th July 2021, 12:19 pm
Kelso councillor Euan Robson.
Kelso councillor Euan Robson.

That’s the view of Kelso councillor Euan Robson, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Scottish Borders Council.

He said proposed changes to the east coast mainline timetable for 2022 – which would see the number of LNER services calling at Berwick each day reduced by a third – would result in “thousands fewer tickets available from Berwick”.

The company, owned by the Department of Transport, revealed the proposed new timetable, currently out to public consultation, last month.

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The net effect of changes being proposed by various rail operators would mean that six fewer trains each day would stop at Berwick.

"Services from Berwick seem to have become sacrificial lambs to reduce journey times to London from other stations," Mr Robson said.

"Of course timetables occasionally need to change and if services are just not used then they should cease but this is a lot more than that.

"There will be a train from Berwick to London Kings Cross every two hours rather than every hour.

"There will be fewer trains to York as well, just for example. The services will be slower too.

"LNER's consultation indicates that there will be thousands fewer tickets available from Berwick which underlines the point about loss of services and incidentally much reduces the chance of bargain fares.”

It seems that some gaps would be filled by Cross Country, but Mr Robson said that meant passengers may have to change trains much more often in the future to complete their journeys.

He added: "Northumberland County Council has roundly rejected the proposals and I hope that Scottish Borders Council will do the same and ask LNER to produce much improved proposals."

Northumberland County Council leader Glen Sanderson called the proposed changes a “huge and unwelcome backwards step”, particularly for Berwick and Morpeth.

Scottish Borders Council has confirmed that its officers are in the process of preparing a response.