MP’s frustrations and hopes for future of Hartlepool rail services

A Northern train at Hartlepool Railway Station
A Northern train at Hartlepool Railway Station

Hartlepool MP Mike Hill heard about plans to improve the local rail network after meeting with a boss of rail firm Northern.

Mr Hill spoke about concerns and frustrations experienced by commuters on Northern services through Hartlepool after meeting with Mike Patterson the regional head of the firm.

Hartlepool MP Mike Hill.

Hartlepool MP Mike Hill.

He also told of the operator’s plans to completely redesign Hartlepool Railway Station and add more Grand Central services to London.

He said: “Naturally given the redevelopment of Church Street I urged Mr Patterson to key in with the council as he assured me that there are plans to completely redesign it as a hub, plus I discussed barriers to the usage of the bus depot as a transport hub for buses.”

Mr Hill stressed the need for greater investment in the network and for 25-year-old carriages to be upgraded to improve the service passengers receive.

He said: “I was told it’s a Department For Transport Decision and nothing to do with the franchisee who would love the go ahead for new stock.

“The people of Hartlepool and the North East as a whole deserve a damn site better than this and it just goes to show how much the Government is neglecting our transport infrastructure.”

He also disagreed with Mr Patterson who said the company runs four-carriage services at peak times.

Mr Hill said he had only seen two carriage trains.

Mr Hill added: “Don’t get me wrong the meeting was positive. Grand Central Railways have very welcome and ambitious plans to increase frequency of services to London and I am fully behind them.

“There are plans too to increase the frequency of trains to Newcastle and Middlesbrough, which in the face of a sluggish once an hour off peak service has to be a good thing.

“We have a lot going for us in Hartlepool but even the director agrees with me we need a hell of a lot more investment to even make a jot of difference.”

Mr Hill met with the Northern chief on the eve of yesterday’s RMT rail strike over passenger safety related to Northern plans to run driver-only services.

Mr Hill said: “With so many unlit and unstaffed stations along the Durham East Coast Line I got the impression that guard free or conductor free trains might be a way off for us, but I believe whole heartedly that those jobs remain vital across the network for a whole range of reasons including security and accessibility.”

He said he remains to be convinced that new gate staff at stations and travel safety officers will not undermine the role of the traditional guards and conductors.