Little did I realise, as I scribbled my piece last month about future trains on Tees Valley lines, that Northern was planning a far greater and more immediate upheaval for its passengers.
In a poorly publicised consultation, which closed at the beginning of August, Northern proposed to cut all current local services through Newcastle and from south of Middlesbrough and the Esk Valley line to anywhere in the remainder of the Tees Valley, Hartlepool, Sunderland, and Newcastle and then on into the Tyne Valley. Instead, the services would be replaced by ‘shuttle’ services with ‘connections’ ranging from five to as much as 54 minutes – absurd and surely unacceptable to replace what are now hourly through services. Moreover, some ‘shuttles’ have no onward connections, creating new two-hour gaps. Passengers travelling to James Cook Hospital from elsewhere in the Tees Valley would face a change and the same waits for an onward journey of just four minutes. Many hundreds of passengers will be so affected every day.