Anger as Chesterfield loses key train service amid coronavirus timetable changes

Chesterfield council leaders say they are ‘appalled’ after a train operator decided to stop calling services at the town’s railway station.
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Before the Covid-19 lockdown, CrossCountry trains called at Chesterfield every hour north and southbound on journeys between Scotland and the South West.

CrossCountry says it has taken the ‘difficult decision’ to remove the calls from its new timetable because of the extra time needed to get passengers on and off trains while maintaining social distancing.

CrossCountry will no longer stop services at Chesterfield from its new timetable.CrossCountry will no longer stop services at Chesterfield from its new timetable.
CrossCountry will no longer stop services at Chesterfield from its new timetable.
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The company has not confirmed whether the services will return in future timetables.

Chesterfield Borough Council’s leader, Councillor Tricia Gilby, says she is ‘appalled’ by the decision.

“In normal circumstances around 620,000 passengers a year use cross country services at Chesterfield, and whilst we are trying to rebuild the local economy and minimise the negative impacts on residents of our borough and surrounding area, this action is unacceptable,” she said.

“We will be continuing to work with local MPs, as well as public and private organisations to lobby the Government and CrossCountry trains to get this decision overturned.”

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Coun Gilby says the authority was only made aware of the proposal ‘very recently’ and she has written to the company ‘making representations in the strongest possible terms’.

Philip Riden, Chesterfield Civic Society chairman, said the decision will mean that ‘for the first time for over a century Chesterfield will have no direct rail services to Birmingham, the South West, North East England and Scotland’ and will remove one of the town’s ‘major selling points’.

Peter Swallow, chair of Destination Chesterfield, said: "The decision by Cross Country to remove the calls at Chesterfield in its long distance trains between Scotland and Cornwall is a blow to the town’s recovery this summer given the town’s proximity to the Peak District and the forecast increased levels of tourism due to the staycation boom.

“Longer term, the station and its excellent connectivity is an integral part of the growth ambitions of Chesterfield, particularly the new office developments at Chesterfield Waterside and the Northern Gateway Enterprise Centre. Destination Chesterfield wholeheartedly supports Chesterfield Borough Council’s lobbying to get Cross Country’s decision reversed."

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A CrossCountry spokesperson said: “In the latest revision of our timetables we took the difficult decision to remove the calls at Chesterfield in our long distance trains between Scotland and Cornwall.

“The need to allow space for people to socially distance on platforms and getting on and off trains means more time is needed at the busiest stations, and this will only increase as more people resume travelling by train.

“The only way to make additional time is to remove other stops and this is what we have done at a small number of stations across Britain.

“Care was taken to ensure customers would still be able to travel, and Chesterfield maintains a regular service by other train operators.”

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