- is it tougher up North?On a recent holiday to Northumberland I had the chance to use rail services in that area. I had to return to Bristol for a job interview and travelled from Morpeth to Shirehampton and return. Apart from needing a mortgage (£120), I wanted to travel from Widdrington Station. However, Widdrington only has two trains a day to Newcastle and one back. Echoes of Pilning (tho' at least it has a daily service!) So we went to Morpeth.
There is a well used station here - the car park was full and we had to park on the road. Our train was a refurbished 142 unit, which make the ususal Severn Beach trains feel luxurious!
Newcastle Central is a gem architecturally and well worth a look at.
My journey to Bristol from Newcastle was on Cross Country and uneventful apart from being turfed out of my seat at Darlington by a passenger who had reserved it part way. (Beware: on Cross Country reservations are done electronically and only appear on the screen above the seat at the station where the reservation starts, so if you travel long distance you have to check the reservation on the seat you occupy at every station - pieces of paper do have advantages! Oh yes, of course there was a change at Birmingham New Street (the worst station on the network surely) where I had to do a jog across the bridge to find platform 1.
The journey back was fine - though 6 hours was hard on the posterior! It also stopped at Morpeth, so no changes.
There are real opportunities there for expansion of routes and service improvements (not just to Widdrington and stations to Chathill). Ashington has rails and no trains. Services could so easily be reintroduced from Newcastle to Morpeth via Ashington with no new rails needed. With minimal relaying, the branch through Lynemouth and on to Ellington could also be brought into use. and why the Washington/Leamside line remains unused is totally uncomprehensible. Is it surprising that some rails were removed for scrap by unauthorised people? It appears no one cares and the line has no future.
I do recommend Northumberland for a holiday though. Just a shame I did not get the job.