Doncaster to Scunthorpe trains should be re-routed through Kirton and Brigg during landslip closure by First TransPennine, rail campaigner suggests
First TransPennine Express trains that can no longer reach Scunthorpe from Doncaster because of a landslip in the Hatfield and Stainforth area should be re-routed through Kirton Lindsey and Brigg - according to a rail campaigner.
It will be months before the track is repaired and the temporary bus service can be removed between Scunthorpe and Doncaster - the major South Yorkshire rail junction.
The train company says there is no alternative route around the landslide and reckons the only option is to continue providing bus replacements.
But Phillip Hewson, from Brigg, wants the Brigg line - already carrying diverted traffic from the Scunthorpe route - to be pressed into service to take these passenger trains.
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He says TransPennine services could be sent on the alternative line through North Lincolnshire - currently used almost exclusively by freight, with only six passenger trains running on Saturdays.
Had the Stainforth blockage happened during the days when British Railways managed the track AND ran the trains, Mr Hewson suggests the plan would have been to re-route passenger trains to Barnetby via Gainsborough.
If this option was taken up now he says the journey through Kirton and Brigg would take only a few minutes longer and give Grimsby/Cleethorpes passengers the benefit of train travel throughout "without the inconvenience of transferring to a bus."
Mr Hewson says: "This possibility still exists but the companies will, I am sure, need to be prompted into taking this course of action because of the economic issues."
He suggests the arguments against re-routing will be:
a) Crews are unfamiliar with the route
b) Lack of availability of rolling stock
c) Pathing problems on the single track sections of the Brigg line
d) Additional costs incurred.
Mr Hewson has provided answers to all four points:
a) A small cohort of crews could be trained within a week or so with the dedicated task of shuttling to and fro from Doncaster to Cleethorpes. It would not be necesary to train all TransPennine crews.
b) There should not be an additional call on rolling stock since there is enough leeway in the present schedules to allow for the minor number of additional minutes caused by the re-routing.
c) The Brigg line can get busy but there have been periods of significant slack even within this initial period of uncertainity. With a more unhurried look at what traffic is offered he is sure it would be possible to find paths for passenger trains.
d) Train passengers pay a premium price for their travel and it is unlikely that fares will be dropped to compensate for the decline in quality in their travel experience.
Mr Hewson says there has been a good deal of political talk about less "bustitution" in the UK.
He adds: "This unfortunate scenario is an ideal opportunity for TransPennine to show its worth in addressing the needs of passengers and keeping them on the train.
"As a sop to rail managers who may be inclined to veto this course of action, I would say - Show willing and implement a two-hourly service between Doncaster and Cleethorpes for the duration of this blockage."
Currently, passenger trains can get from Barnetby to Scunthorpe but are unable to make it through to Doncaster because of the landslip.
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