Campaigners call for investment in East Coast Mainline to boost whole region
The aim is to attract investment to improve capacity on the rail route which runs from Edinburgh to London via Berwick, Newcastle, Durham and Darlington.
At present there is only one track each for both directions between Berwick and Northallerton which results in inter-city, local and slow-moving freight trains all battling for space on crammed tracks.
James Ramsbotham, chief executive, North East England Chamber of Commerce said: “We have fought for better connectivity between our region and the rest of the country for a number of years.
“The situation with our East Coast Mainline is now so urgent it has become an economic imperative. We have members who struggle to have reliable travel around the country and beyond and that costs them time and money.
“If we are to receive any benefit from both HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail, which will join the East Coast Mainline at York, substantial improvements need to be earmarked for funding. These key infrastructure projects will, in turn, be a catalyst for regional investment. They can also help to rebalance our national economy.”
Called Fast Track East Coast, the Chamber campaign being launched on Friday at a gathering of business leaders at the Beacon of Light, Sunderland, urges the Government to commit to investing in the Mainline and ensure it is an integral part of Network Rail’s future plans.
Support has already come from major North East businesses include Chamber Partner member Womble Bond Dickinson. The Chamber is now encouraging more companies to share stories of how and why rail connectivity is important to their businesses and plans for the future.
There is also a campaign being coordinated by South East Northumberland Rail Users Group (SENRUG) to improve local rail services in Northumberland, while there have been calls for later train services from Edinburgh to Berwick.
More information is available at www.neechamber.co.uk/fast-track-east-coast and on twitter @FastTrackEC