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Last Updated: Sunday, 25 April, 2004, 10:52 GMT 11:52 UK
Train service row goes to Commons
MPs throughout the north-east of England are being urged to back a fight to restore threatened train services.

Union bosses are angry at plans by the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) to slash services between Teesside and Tyneside from 19 a day to just four.

The Rail maritime and Transport Union (RMT) has written to every MP in the region asking them to sign Commons early-day motion urging a reprieve.

The SRA is accused of introducing cuts without proper consultation.

The RMT says the cuts will have an adverse effect on the travelling public, the environment, the north of England economy and rail workers' jobs.

A union spokesman said: "The SRA has already pulled the plug on the only direct rail service between Leeds and Glasgow and has reduced services between Newcastle and Hartlepool.

Insufficient demand

"Now they are cutting direct services between Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Saltburn via Darlington.

"The Strategic Rail Authority has ignored the pleas of local authorities, passenger groups and communities leaders, who all agree that these cuts make no sense.

"These cuts are bad for rail jobs, and deal enormous blows to the local economy, communities and the environment."

The SRA says it took the decision to cut back on services, after a three-year experiment showed there was insufficient demand to sustain increased subsidies to train operators.

Since September 2003, services in the area, which connect to Teesside and Wearside, have been cut by 56%.

But campaigners, including the North east Rail Passenger Committee and members of Seaham Town Council, claim rapid population growth in the area and a long-running train conductors' dispute, means the experiment should be extended.

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