'Deep concern' at ongoing reduction in trains at Chesterfield railway station
The leader of Chesterfield Borough Council says she is ‘deeply concerned’ that a reduction in trains serving the town because of Covid-19 will become permanent.
Councillor Tricia Gilby has written to the minister of state for rail about CrossCountry’s decision not to fully restore its pre-pandemic service to Chesterfield railway station.
There is currently no indication that more services will stop at Chesterfield in the Christmas timetable revision and CrossCountry has continued to refuse to confirm when full services will be reinstated.
CrossCountry faced criticism this summer after initially scrapping all stops at the town’s railway station – before a partial U-turn saw peak-time services resume.
The company said it had taken the ‘difficult decision’ because of the extra time needed to get passengers on and off trains while maintaining social distancing.
Before the Covid-19 lockdown, CrossCountry trains called at Chesterfield every hour north and southbound on journeys between Scotland and the north east and Birmingham and the south west.
Councillor Gilby said: “I am deeply concerned that the temporary changes made by CrossCountry will become permanent and this will have severe consequences for Chesterfield.
"Lots of people rely on CrossCountry services to get to work, as well as for leisure and tourism purposes.
"Whilst the return of peak travel services is important, the effect of cancelling off-peak services will continue to make it difficult for workers and visitors alike."
Coun Gilby says she wants to work with CrossCountry to find ‘a solution that benefits the people of Chesterfield and is financially viable’, but talks with the the company have reached an ‘impasse and require the Department for Transport to step in.
“Chesterfield Railway Station is one of the busiest in the East Midlands and arguably the most important railway station in Derbyshire.
"I recognise that the Covid-19 lockdown did reduce demand for rail travel but other operators including East Midlands Railway and Northern Trains have already reinstated services to Chesterfield at virtually pre-covid levels, whilst CrossCountry continues to try and do the opposite.”
A spokesperson for CrossCountry said the original reasons for its changes remained, so it was still unable to reinstate the pre-Covid weekday level of service.
"However, we are resuming a two-hourly service on Saturday and Sunday afternoons to support the resumption of leisure and tourist journeys,” he added.