By Alex Walker and Mark Grainge
A PETITION to get a direct train link from Middlesbrough to London is coming up to its first anniversary.
It was launched by Labour MP Andy McDonald.
The petition follows the controversial privatisation of the East Coast main line, where a group of railway companies led by Virgin and Stagecoach won the contract to run trains on the line.
In anticipation of this the MP for Middlesbrough began an e-petition to encourage one of these franchises to include the town in its plans and provide a direct high speed railway connection to London.
Two months after the launch in April 2014 the petition gained 500 signatures from local residents and business owners with many claiming that the link will bring “economic vitality” to the area and the town is big enough to “deserve a direct and fast train route to London.”
However, from the 500 signatures generated in the first two months, the petition is now only averaging 13 signatures a month.
According to the Office of Rail Regulation, Middlesbrough Railway Station is the fourth busiest in the North East yet many rely on Darlington station to access the capitol with almost 400,000 interchanges made there per year.
Tside interviewed people at Middlesbrough train station to see if feelings towards a new high speed line had changed from when the petition was launched nine months ago.
One commuter, who uses the East Coast line to reach his work place in Middlesbrough needs to transfer at Darlington so he can reach the town.
He said: “If one train is late, it can ruin your whole day.”
A former business management student at Teesside University said: “I don’t think a train line to London will solve our economic problems, it may help a little though.”
He also referred to the original railroads and said Middlesbrough had grown into a successful iron mining city without much help from railroads.
Andy McDonald also mentioned in his petition about how the new line could boost businesses in central Middlesbrough.
We asked a salesman from Eden Mobility to share his views on that claim.
He said: “We only get the smaller trains passing through here, whereas on the main line, you get the much larger trains which are much more wheelchair friendly which is what our customers need.”
The general attitude seems to have cooled down towards the MP’s idea.
Andy McDonald was unavailable for comment on our findings.
If you would like to sign the petition please follow this link: