Fair fares needed on new Sunderland – Newcastle rail link
Local Liberal Democrats are urging Virgin Trains and Nexus to let people use travelcards on new Sunderland – Newcastle rail services.
Residents and business leaders across Sunderland have welcomed the decision by Virgin Trains to run new direct rail services between Sunderland and London King’s Cross, starting in December.
But Liberal Democrats in the city says there are still questions to be answered about which tickets will be accepted on the part of the journey between Sunderland and Newcastle.
Niall Hodson, Lib Dem councillor candidate for the Millfield and Thornholme Ward (which includes a large part of the city centre including Sunderland railway station), is urging Nexus and Virgin Trains to let people use their monthly and yearly MetroSaver passes and Network One Travelcards on the new service.
An agreement between Tyne and Wear transport authority Nexus and Northern Rail means that people with a monthly or yearly Metro pass can use it on Northern Rail trains between Sunderland and Newcastle, as well as on the Metro.
However, when contacted by Wearside Liberal Democrats Nexus confirmed that Metro travelcards would not be accepted on the new Virgin services between the two cities.
Commenting, Liberal Democrat campaigner for Millfield and Thornholme Niall Hodson said:
“It’s only fair that people who have tickets that are already valid between Sunderland and Newcastle railway stations, either for journeys on the Metro or on Northern Rail trains, should also be able to use their passes on the new Virgin Trains services too.
“It’s particularly important for those who need to travel from Sunderland to Newcastle early in the morning, because the new Virgin service will leave Sunderland at 05:40, arriving at Newcastle at 05:56 - 27 minutes earlier than the first Metro of the day.
“Wearside Liberal Democrats are urging Nexus and Virgin Trains to come to an agreement so that passengers will be able to use tickets interchangeably on all services between Newcastle and Sunderland.”
The new Virgin Trains service will depart Sunderland at 05:40 and will call at Newcastle, Durham, Darlington, York, Peterborough and London King’s Cross. A return service leaves London King’s Cross at 20:00, arriving into Sunderland at 23:22.
The first Northern Rail service of the day leaves Sunderland at 07:30.
Notes to editors:
The price of single and return tickets between Sunderland Central and Newcastle railway stations will be the same on both Northern Rail and Virgin Trains at £3.20 and £3.40 respectively.
When contacted by Wearside Liberal Democrats:
- Nexus said that there is “no agreement between [Nexus] and Virgin Trains to extend the use of travel passes onto new Virgin services”
- Virgin Trains said they didn’t know if tickets would be interchangeable between their services and Metro and Northern Rail services.