Railroad bosses have been accused of “simply pushing back the problems” after agreeing to curb a controversial overhaul of timetables.
Several northeastern stations on the East Coast Main Line (ECML) faced service cuts under the proposals, which were submitted for public consultation earlier this year.
And while the news that any changes will now be postponed until 2023 at the earliest has been welcomed, concerns remain about other issues facing the region’s infrastructure.
Read more: Rail timetable “disaster” that could cut services in northeast suspended until 2023
Glen Sanderson, Head of Northumberland County Council, said: “While we welcome the announcement that no new schedule changes will be introduced for another year, I am very concerned that this will only push back the 12 additional months problems.
“Obviously residents and businesses are very concerned about these plans and I still think these proposed changes are a huge and unwelcome step backwards – especially for Berwick and Morpeth.
“As we recover from a global pandemic and do all we can to revitalize our cities and our economy, any reduction in rail services in our county would send the complete wrong message.
“It is positive to hear that the LNER and others are acting on the feedback and reinforcing the need for them to continue talking and listening to our residents.
“Until then, we will continue to work with them to defend Northumberland.”
According to the proposals, Northumberland risked losing 24 services per day on the schedules managed by LNER and other operators on the ECML.
Morpeth was in line for the biggest hit, with a reduction of 21 trains per day, followed by Berwick, who would have been down six if the changes had been made.
Other stations in the county have reportedly seen slight increases.
Elsewhere in the North East, Durham and Darlington also faced the prospect of cuts, although operator LNER had also offered to increase the number of its trains stopping in Durham on their way to and from London.
Trade magazine Modern Railways revealed earlier this week that the decision to suspend plans was based on concerns over Azuma’s new fleet working at the ECML and power supply issues at key points, as well as public criticism.
A spokesperson for the Department of Transportation said: “We have agreed that the planned introduction of the East Coast Mainline schedule change in May 2022 will not take place.
“It is vital that the views of passengers and local leaders are heard and reflected in the calendar.
“This decision ensures that the lessons of May 2018 are learned, allowing the industry to conduct a full review of its readiness and address outstanding issues identified by the industry insurance group.
“The industry will also focus on delivering a new improved and achievable schedule, which fully takes into account the consultation responses of passengers and local stakeholders and provides reliable services on the east coast.”
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