A Northumbrian piper was at Morpeth station last week (Monday 12 December 2005) to greet a new service from Virgin Trains.

The service will give Morpeth links to Scotland, as well as direct rail links to Leeds, Sheffield, Derby, Birmingham, Bristol and Plymouth.

Two trains in each direction will call at Morpeth daily on Mondays to Saturdays – to complement GNER’s services to and from Edinburgh – and one in each direction on Sundays.

The service benefits businesses within the catchment area of Morpeth station including Ashington, Bedlington, Cramlington and Blyth.

Virgin’s range of cheap advance-purchase Value fares has been extended to include Morpeth.

"We have been keen to promote Morpeth as a stopping place on the CrossCountry network," said Councillor Bill Brooks, leader of Northumberland County Council.

"We are working hard to develop tourism in Northumberland and this will open up Britain’s most stunning county to thousands more visitors."

Virgin CrossCountry managing director Chris Gibb said: "We look forward to working with the council and colleagues in the rail industry to develop Morpeth station’s contribution to the economy of the area."
Members of the South East Northumberland Rail Action Group joined the piper to meet the first weekday northbound Virgin stopping train (0943).

The train crew and dignitaries were presented with festive mince pies by members. A group of local school children made a day trip from Morpeth to Edinburgh to enjoy the new service, courtesy of Virgin.

Information from Railfuture north east member Trevor Watson

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