Hartlepool MP appeals to transport secretary to help get rail services on track

Hartlepool MP Mike Hill (left) meets with Chris Grayling in the Transport Secretary's office in Parliament.
Hartlepool MP Mike Hill (left) meets with Chris Grayling in the Transport Secretary's office in Parliament.

Hartlepool MP Mike Hill pressed Transport Secretary Chris Grayling for improvements to rail services in a one to one meeting.

Mr Hill met with Mr Grayling after the Secretary of State made an urgent statement in the House of Commons on widespread disruption experienced by Northern rail passengers, especially in the North West of the country.

The town’s MP took the opportunity to raise issues experienced by Northern passengers in Hartlepool including service cancellations, delays and promised newer trains which have yet to arrive.

Mr Hill said: “Much has been said about the performance of Northern Rail in the North West since timetables were changed, but there has been a distinct knock on effect on services in the North East as well.

“I was therefore pleased to have had the opportunity to let the Secretary of State know exactly what concerns and problems my constituents are facing on a daily basis.

“The key points I have put to Chris Grayling were that there has been a marked increase in late or cancelled services with Northern rail, key services have been moved or are changing, train sizes remains an issue as well as safety for train staff and passengers, and the promise of new trains that never come.”

Mr Hill says many constituents have contacted him to complain about services being cancelled and not replaced.

Other problems reported to him include the off-peak 6.55am Northern service moving to peak time 7.05am meaning customers with an off-peak ticket can no longer use that service.

Mr Hill added other services have been pushed back as a result.

He said another ongoing frustration for Hartlepool commuters is that trains comprise of just two carriages, even at peak times, making for cramped and uncomfortable journeys.

“New trains are often promised, but on the rare occasion one appears it is simply an old train that has been slightly refitted,” he said.

“I told the Secretary of State that for far too long now the people of Hartlepool have had to put up with cramped, dirty and leaky trains, slow services and timetables which are not user-friendly.

“I pointed out the fact that folk are physically walking to Seaton Carew to be able to get a seat before the train arrives into Hartlepool and that is simply unacceptable.

“I felt my meeting was useful, but whether it initiates any positive changes or improvements remains to be seen.”

Northern Rail has said delays in electrification of lines in the North West have affected the replacement of old Pacer trains elsewhere.