Communities in East Lothian, the Scottish Borders and Northumberland have been connected via rail for the first time in years decades thanks to new services operated by FirstGroup’s TransPennine Express (TPE).
The train company has launched five services per day (Monday to Saturday) in both directions, calling at Edinburgh Waverley, Dunbar, Reston (once opened), Berwick-upon-Tweed, Alnmouth, Morpeth, and Newcastle, with one service per day calling at Cramlington.
The introduction of the new services means that for the first time in decades, communities in Morpeth, Alnmouth, Berwick and Dunbar now have a rail link, providing new journey opportunities for residents between towns in the regions and into Edinburgh and Newcastle.
The new services will be operated by TPE’s modern, five carriage Nova 1 trains featuring spacious interiors, plenty of leg room, free Wi-Fi in both Standard and First Class as well as access to onboard entertainment system, Exstream.
TransPennine Express managing director Matthew Golton said: “We are thrilled that, as of today, communities across East Lothian, the Scottish Borders and Northumberland are connected once again, and we are looking forward to welcoming customers onboard.
“Working with Transport Scotland and Rail North Partnership we’re delighted that these additional services will now significantly improve connectivity on this route, providing communities with enhanced access to work, education and leisure opportunities.”
UK Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris said: “Our railways are vital in connecting communities and empowering our towns and cities to flourish, which is why we have announced our historic £96bn Integrated Rail Plan to help level up the North and Midlands.
“It’s fantastic that Transport Scotland and the Rail North Partnership have come together with TransPennine Express to launch these new services, which will bring people together, drive growth, and provide an important link between two of the UK’s greatest cities.”
The Scottish Government’s transport minister Graeme Dey said: “This is very good news for the local communities along the route and a great example of collaborative working.
“Improving access to work, education and leisure opportunities by connecting communities is at the heart of our transport priorities. These additional rail services, particularly at intermediate stations, will also make a real difference in encouraging more people out of their cars and onto trains as we strive towards achieving our Net Zero goals.”
Cllr Martin Gannon, chair of the North East Joint Transport Committee, said: “I’m pleased to welcome this new TransPennine Express service which will help to improve connectivity for local people – particularly for communities in Northumberland. Better access to employment, education and leisure is a key objective of our regional Transport Plan, so I’m delighted to see this additional service begin.”