England rail users highlight Teesside Airport 'ghost station'

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Teesside Airport railway station sign

Twenty six people took an organised outing by rail this weekend to a little used station in North East England, in an effort to highlight its poor rail service. The trip was organised by Alex Nelson, the stationmaster of the nearby independent Chester-le-Street railway station. He wanted to raise the profile of the little used Teesside Airport railway station, which serves Durham Tees Valley Airport (known as Teesside Airport until 2006).

The station, which is on the Tees Valley Line and served by Northern Rail, is one of the least used stations in the country, and is in the bottom five of national rankings of passenger visits. Figures for 2007–8 year showed that only 52 people used the station in that period, which only has one timetabled train calling in each direction, on Saturdays only. In the current timetable, a train calls at the airport station from the Darlington direction at 10.28am, while later a second train calls in the opposite direction, leaving at 1.41pm.

By organising a group of people to travel on this service at the weekend, Mr Nelson hoped to raise the officially recorded passenger numbers for the station, and to highlight the poor rail service to the region's airport. He also hoped to persuade rail authorities to move the station, which is little more than a halt, 500 metres closer to the airport terminal. The present station is, according to Mr Nelson, "a good 15-minute walk from the airport terminal" building.

A Class 142 'Pacer' train calls at Teesside Airport railway station in 2006

Nelson said:

"They haven’t closed the station because it is incredibly difficult to do so – you have to go through all manner of consultations and government acts, instead they run the minimal service which is no use to anybody. We say that if a station is going to be there it may as well be of some use to the public"

Mr Nelson was originally hoping for 50 people to take the trip, organised as an outing from Chester-le-Street station to the airport station and back, changing en-route at Darlington railway station.