Minister's pledge to ease rail disruption on Cleethorpes to Doncaster line damaged by landslide
TRANSPORT Minister Simon Burns has promised to see if there's a way to "make life easier" for passengers as the Cleethorpes to Doncaster rail line is repaired.
During a Parliamentary debate on the disruption, caused by a landslide last month, Cleethorpes MP Martin Vickers suggested "deregulating" some ticket restrictions.
This would allow passengers to get to Cleethorpes from London via Newark without paying a higher fare for leaving before 7pm.
Mr Vickers told MPs that East Coast, which runs the line, was not prepared to do that.
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"I subsequently wrote to East Coast, but, sadly, it has not as yet bothered to reply," he said.
"It does not seem unreasonable to request that, for the 18.03 from King's Cross to Newark, which has a good connection through to Grimsby, it could provide a derestriction to allow passengers to Barnetby, Habrough and Grimsby to use that service."
At the moment, a replacement bus service is taking passengers between Scunthorpe and Doncaster, from which East Coast rail services are running normally.
In response, Mr Burns said ticketing was "a matter for the train operators", but he promised to "ask them if they will look at the issue to see if there is a way that might help to make life easier" for Mr Vickers' constituents.
Mr Vickers also voiced concern that hundreds of passengers might be "permanently lost" to First TransPennine.
He said: "It is losing 25-30 per cent of its customers from Grimsby and Cleethorpes, which equates to 2,500 a week.
"Those people who wanted to come to Cleethorpes at Easter and into the summer season will be lost to the tourist trade. "The inconvenience is not only to individual travellers, including Members of Parliament, I have to say, but more importantly to people accessing leisure services. It has a real impact on the local economy, and that is particularly relevant with the approach of the Easter weekend, which is the traditional start of the tourist season."
Mr Vickers acknowledged the "difficulties" faced by First TransPennine. "The priority is to get the line clear and get at least a limited service up and running," he said. "At a conservative estimate, that will take another 12 to 16 weeks."
He also used his debate to repeat his call for a direct rail service between Grimsby, Cleethorpes and London.
He said: "At the moment, there is an East Midlands train that goes from Lincoln to King's Cross in the morning and King's Cross to Lincoln in the evening.
"It would be a golden opportunity to test the market for a future service if that route could be extended to Cleethorpes for a short time."
ON THE WEB: View video footage of the damage caused by the landslide at www.thisisgrimsby.co.uk