Sir Edward Leigh, the Conservative Member of Parliament whose constituency includes Market Rasen, condemned LNER’s proposal to leave the town off the list of stops for their reintroduced direct daily service between Cleethorpes and London.
“I am outraged and deeply disappointed by LNER’s reply to my consultation submission,” Sir Edward said. “I will fight all the way up to the Trains Minister and the boss of LNER. I urge all residents of Market Rasen’s large catchment area including Louth to take part in this consultation and object.”
A representative of LNER told the MP that the Cleethorpes-to-London direct service would be too long for all doors to open at Market Rasen and that the foot crossing would be blocked. Sir Edward has for several years campaigned alongside fellow Lincolnshire MPs to revive the daily direct service between Cleethorpes, Grimsby, Market Rasen, and London.
“Market Rasen makes perfect sense as a stop on the direct service to London and LNER’s objections are irrational. Trains stop at shorter platforms all over the country and passengers are used to making sure they are in the right carriage for their station. The old through train was longer than the platform anyhow.”
“Frankly their reply shows breathtaking arrogance on the part of LNER. They are owned by the taxpayer. They should work for the public. Their proposal would mean the train between Lincoln and Grimsby would be at least half empty. No doubt in two years’ time they’d then cancel the service as being uneconomic.”
“Stopping at Market Rasen makes perfect sense. The town has a large catchment area and would make it easier for people in Louth to get to London too. This is an excellent levelling-up opportunity for a part of Lincolnshire that is poorly served for rail links. Instead, LNER want to pass through more than thirty miles of railway between Grimsby and Lincoln without stopping.”
LNER's Reply to Sir Edward Leigh's Objection:
Miss Penelope Jayne Bond
King’s Cross Station, Euston Road, London, N1 9AL
Good afternoon Sir Edward
Thank you for your letter, regarding the LNER May 2022 timetable consultation proposals.
Our proposed May 2022 timetable has been developed by Network Rail with all train and freight operators on the East Coast Main Line. It has involved balancing long-distance, high-speed, regional and commuter/local services alongside the needs of the rail freight sector. Due to this approach, our focus on maximising the benefits of investment in the East Coast Main Line for passengers and managing remaining capacity constraints on the route, the timetable does involve a series of trade-offs.
The purpose of our consultation is to seek views on the proposed changes, which include 39 more LNER services each weekday, up to 17,000 extra seats per day and reduced journey times and on long-distance services between London, the East Midlands, the North of England and Scotland, while protecting reliability.
I wanted to clarify some points on the concerns you have raised in regard to LNER’s service extension to Cleethorpes, and the omission of stops at Market Rasen:
There are numerous reasons why LNER would not be able to promise station calls at Market Rasen within the May 2022 timetable consultation. This is largely down to operational concerns.
The proposed one train per day service extension to and from Cleethorpes, is an extension of the Lincoln to London King’s Cross service. Due to platform length constraints at Cleethorpes, Grimsby and Lincoln, this service would need to be operated by a 5-car Azuma train, which are 130 metres long.
Market Rasen is a historic station and has low, short platforms, just 74 metres in length. There is also a level foot crossing over the tracks, to allow passengers to get between the two parallel platforms.
Since the Azuma train is nearly twice as long as the 74 metre platforms at Market Rasen, there would be 2.5 coaches (4 or 5 doors) off the platform. This would require selective door opening (SDO) to ensure that passengers couldn’t open a door that wasn’t at the platform. While this is possible, it would create operational issues, as passengers would need to be informed which part of the train to be in. This also has implications for train crew, passenger assist and seat reservations. We would also have concerns about accessibility, particularly with the very low platforms.
Additionally, if an Azuma train of any configuration is platformed on platform 2 it will stand across the passenger foot crossing, blocking access to the platforms temporarily, which may be a safety hazard.
Furthermore, at present the timings and train paths between Lincoln and Cleethorpes are not verified and the calling pattern for the Cleethorpes extension has not yet been fully appraised. For instance, a call at Market Rasen might incur a five minutes journey time penalty, which may then create a clash elsewhere on the network.
LNER also has similar operational concerns regarding Barnetby and Habrough, as mentioned in your letter. Whilst we will make every effort to include a Market Rasen, Barnetby and Habrough station call within our Cleethorpes extensions, until further detailed analysis has taken place, we are unable to promise these station calls at this stage.
It may be that it is unfeasible to call at Market Rasen without considerable investment in improved platforms at this station.
We hope this helps explain the detail behind the proposals.
We would like to thank you for raising your concerns. We will be reviewing all of the comments we receive as part of the wider consultation.
[Penny Bond BEM, Customer Communications Manager, LNER]