Cutbacks hit Sunday trains

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THE SUNDAY timetable on Hucknall, Bulwell and Newstead’s Robin Hood train line is to be trimmed because of a shortage of passengers and money.

The surprise news comes just weeks after it was revealed that the launch of the service, back in December 2008, had played a key role in usage of the line hitting a record high.

Figures for Sunday journeys, when taken in isolation, show that passenger-numbers are lower than expected.

Money to subsidise the £217,000-a-year timetable has also run out in the face of massive public-spending cuts nationwide.

It means changes must be made and these will see the ten scheduled return journeys between Nottingham and Newstead each Sunday being cut to eight.

The service will be axed completely between Mansfield Woodhouse and Worksop.

When the Sunday trains were launched, the original package saw Notts County Council agree to fund 90% of the cost until Sunday May 22 this year, with Derbyshire County Council paying the rest.

It was hoped the Department of Transport (DfT) would take over the entire bill after that date. But this will not happen now after its budget was drastically reduced in the government’s spending review.

Derbyshire County Council has also decided to pull the plug on its funding. But cash-strapped Notts County Council cannot afford to pay for the whole service.

Instead Coun Richard Jackson (Con), lead member for transport and highways, has confirmed that an £80,000-a-year pot has been earmarked to keep the reduced timetable running.

Although passenger-numbers had been less than expected, his department feels the service on the East Midlands Trains-run line is now reliable and showing prospects for growth.

Average usage in December, in the run-up to Christmas, was 755 passengers each Sunday.

Coun Jackson said: “We still feel it is a worthwhile service and worth subsidising.

“The subsidies will run for a maximum of five years and we are now in the third year. We are determined to keep it going because after five years, the DfT is obliged to carry it on.”