MP on track of train problems

LONGER station platforms could be built to enable more trains to stop at an East Coast Main Line railway station.

Kevan Jones Labour MP for Durham North

LONGER station platforms could be built to enable more trains to stop at an East Coast Main Line railway station.

The move would also prevent the daily, unseemly crush on the North’s “sardine” trains – branded the most overcrowded in the country by a transport pressure group.

Kevan Jones MP, whose North Durham constituents have to fight for a space on Britain’s most overcrowded train, is to hold a public meeting next week to discuss complaints of a lack of trains stopping at Chester-le-Street, on the East Coast Main Line.

He has already had talks with Transport Minister Tom Harris about the issue.

One solution which has been proposed is to increase the length of the platforms.

At present, most trains pass through Chester-le-Street, heading direct from Darlington or Durham to Newcastle.

The trains which do actually stop at the station are overcrowded, and are often so full they leave passengers fuming on the platform. Now Mr Jones has organised the meeting for County Hall, Durham, on Monday at 6.30pm. Representatives from Durham County Council will also attend.

A recent survey by campaign group Transport 2000 revealed that the 7.59am Durham to Newcastle train calling at Chester-le-Street was the most overcrowded in the country, operating at up to 88% over-capacity. The train had seating for 140 passengers but actually carried 263 on average, leaving 123 standing from Durham, and often unable to pick up any more passengers in Chester-le-Street.

Estelle Taylor, communications director for Transport 2000, said: “Bigger platforms at Chester-le-Street would allow larger trains to stop there and go a long way to prevent the overcrowding that commuters there currently suffer.”

Mr Jones said: “This is still a major issue for rail passengers in North Durham, and I think it’s important to keep the public involved with, and informed about, the efforts that are being made to bring about improvements.”

A spokeswoman for Network Rail North-East said any work to extend the platform at Chester-le-Street would depend on demand from train operators and whether a business plan justified the outlay.

“In those circumstances, we would be happy to carry out the work,” she added.

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer