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Criticism of train firm is off the mark; Views of the North.

ON May 1 you reported an attack by Hexham MP Guy Opperman, on Northern Rail, the operator of local rail services in Northumberland, criticising their failure to provide what he terms extra carriages and services for busy events.

He went on to state that Northern Rail considers Northumberland to be "the end of the line and distant cousin" when providing services.

I consider this criticism of Northern Rail to be unfair and unjustified.

It has already been pointed out to him, following earlier criticism, that the franchise was let to Northern on a no-growth basis by the Department for Transport (DfT) with rolling stock and subsidy allocated accordingly.

Since then, passenger numbers have increased not only locally but nationally so any blame for lack of provision should be laid at the door of the DfT not Northern Rail who do as they are contracted to do with what they are allocated.

Within that remit Northern have actually improved services on the Tyne Valley Line with all trains now stopping at Prudhoe and additional stops at Haydon Bridge and Bardon Mill among other stations.

Regarding his second point, newlyreleased figures from the Office of Rail Regulation might put this in perspective for him.

At the south of the Northern Franchise area, both Leeds and Manchester Piccadilly stations now handle over 24 million passengers each per year.

This compares with 7.5 million at Newcastle and a total of 1.3 million generated by the intermediate stations on the Tyne Valley Line.

Where, therefore, is there any spare rolling stock to augment local services for around 20 days per year? The establishment of a Northumbria rail franchise is another matter for discussion in the future. DAVID WILLIAMS, Stocksfield, Northumberland.
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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:May 19, 2012
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