Row over town's train service cuts

A MAJOR row has broken out over a proposed timetable which would see a cut in rail services to and from Kettering and Wellingborough next year.

Stagecoach Rail Group's proposals would see the number of trains stopping at Kettering and Wellingborough from December next year cut from the current number of 48 northbound services to 37.

The company claims it has been forced to cut the number of services stopping in Northamptonshire to include capacity for services to Corby.

The North Northants Development Company (NNDC), which has led the campaign for the Corby rail link, says this is just an excuse.

Kettering MP Philip Hollobone has described the potential cuts as "catastrophic". He has requested an urgent meeting with Stagecoach and is asking it to re-consider.

Bob Lane, chief executive of the NNDC, said: "Stagecoach is choosing not to stop one of its four northbound trains at Kettering or Wellingborough, which has nothing to do with running a fifth service out of London to Corby. Two of the key towns in the North Northamptonshire growth area are threatened with a deterioration of service which is not acceptable.

"The NNDC will be working with all interested parties to persuade Stagecoach and the Department of Transport that we should suffer no reduction in service."

Stagecoach was awarded the Midland Mainline contract in June and will be rebranding the service as East Midlands Trains when it takes over on November 11.

Managing director Tim Shoveller said the timetable changes were necessary to fit in the Corby link.

He said: "It is a direct consequence of the Corby station. Currently there are two trains an hour from London which stop at Kettering, one from Kettering to Derby and one from Kettering to Nottingham.

"We are proposing one of the trains stops at Derby and the other goes through Kettering and on to Corby which will be the end of the line.

"The reason this has been proposed is because the vast majority of people who commute from Kettering travel from Kettering to London and less people go as far as Derby and Sheffield.

"It is a very complex issue and one that we are very aware of. But we will continue to work with the stakeholders to see what the options are."

Christopher Groome, from the Kettering Rail Users' Group said: "We are effectively being taken off the intercity map and could become an outer suburban service."

A consultation about the timetables has ended and formal proposals will be presented to Network Rail in February.