LNER send explanation to Newcastle United fans via MP over Carabao Cup train ticket disappointment
LNER has said there is one principal reason they can’t run more trains for Newcastle United fans wanting to get to Wembley Stadium this month.
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There is one principal reason why train providers LNER are struggling to match the demand for trains to London ahead of the Carabao Cup Final, according to the company's Managing Director.
Newcastle-upon-Tyne Central MP Chi Onwurah wrote to LNER earlier this month on behalf of Newcastle United fans who had shared concerns over the number of trains and tickets available to travel to Wembley Stadium later this month.
Newcastle United has sold out its allocation of 32,761 tickets for the cup final, but tens of thousands of more Geordies are expected to travel to the capital to be in and amongst the action on February 26.
Ms Onwurah wrote to David Horne, LNER Managing Director, to express her disappointment 'that there is not sufficient capacity on LNER to transport NUFC fans quickly and safely' to Wembley Stadium on a day of 'great excitement'.
Today, Thursday, February 16, the Labour MP received a response from Mr Horne, who said that LNER was keen to provide more trains but was unable to do so due to a delayed timetable uplift.
Mr Horne wrote: "We recognise this match - the first time Newcastle have been in a cup final since 1999 - is a hugely important occasion for fans and we will be operating as many services as possible; carrying many thousands of supporters.
"On Saturday 25 February and the morning of Sunday 26 February, there are more than 11,500 LNER customers booked from Newcastle, Durham and Darlington to London King's Cross - around a third of Newcastle United's ticket allocation. These tickets have been available to purchase since Thursday 5 January.
"Following Newcastle's victory over Southampton in the semi-final there has been even higher demand for our Newcastle / London King's Cross services, as fans make their travel arrangements for the final.
"LNER continues to see an incredibly strong return to rail following the pandemic with customer numbers exceeding pre-pandemic levels - helped in part by running a full timetable since February 20222 - We were one of the first operators to do so. However, this means that we do not have additional trains available to operate between NEwcastle and London King's Cross.
"As you will be aware, the tremendous demand for LENR services has been evident for some time and is one of the many reasons why we had hoped to see a timetable uplift introduced soon. The timetable uplift, planned to come in May 2022, would have seen a 50% increase in the number of trains running between Newcastle and London.
"Such proposals would have a hugely positive impact on your constituents, not only in their everyday lives but particularly at times of significantly increased demand, such as the Carbao up Final or Great North Run weekends.
"Unfortunately, the uplift has been delayed. LNER would still very much like to see the new timetable uplift come into play; to support the thousands of Newcastle customers, and to boost the environmental impact and economic impact LNER makes to the North East of England, currently around £698 million a year."