Campaigners demand improvements to ‘1970s-style’ rail services to Hartlepool

A Northern Rail pacer train.

A Northern Rail pacer train.

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Campaigners have called for an urgent improvment to rail services serving Hartlepool.

So far than 1,800 people have backed an online petition calling for improvements to the Northern Rail services for passengers from the town travelling south to Teesside and north to Seaham, Sunderland, Newcastle and the Metro Centre.

Iain Wright MP

Iain Wright MP

Campaigners say the trains are out of date and there are not enough seats, with passengers having to stand and event being told at some stations that thry cannot board a train as it is full.

Northern Rail, run by travel firm Arriva, say they are in the process of refurbishing our trains and phasing out the Pacers which will be replaced by 281 new, purpose built, carriages, although bosses say “this can’t happen overnight”.

But Hartlepool MP Iain Wright said he receives and a lot of correspondence from people about overcrowding on the Hartlepool to Newcastle service and said the operators need to deal with overcapacity “as a matter of urgency”.

A spokesman for Northern said: “We fully understand the frustration of our customers and reaffirm our commitment to modernise our stations and services in the north east of England.

“We are in the process of refurbishing our trains and phasing out the Pacers which will be replaced by 281 new, purpose built, carriages.”

The spokesman added: “Of course, this can’t happen overnight and our trains will be phased in and out of refurbishment in order to ensure minimum impact on our daily services.

“Changes are on the way, but we ask that our customers bear with us whilst we make the significant improvements to their stations and services.”

Mr Wright said: “I share the frustrations of the petitioners about the timescale for delivery - these are all changes that are long overdue.

“Passengers go back to the 1970s when they use a pacer train and the service isn’t good enough.

“They rightly want to see improvements now, not by the end of 2019.

“I receive a lot of emails from constituents regarding overcrowding on the Hartlepool to Newcastle service.

“It is clear that Arriva has to sort the problem of overcapacity as a matter of urgency.

“I have asked parliamentary questions to put pressure on the transport minister to help alleviate pressure and overcrowding on this rail service for the benefit of passengers now.”