North East Devolution and Levelling Up

Middlesbrough gets first London rail link for 30 years

Middlesbrough’s first direct rail service to London for more than 30 years was launching today to cross-party acclaim.

Azuma trains operated by LNER will run once daily in each direction on weekdays between Middlesbrough and London King’s Cross, stopping at Thornaby and York. The journey will take approximately three hours.

Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris said: ‘This government is committed to levelling up the whole of the UK and improving rail connectivity is key in helping us to build back better and greener, while allowing everyone to experience the best places our country has to offer.

‘This direct service between Middlesbrough and London will be a huge boost for the North-East, joining our Integrated Rail Plan in providing better access to jobs and opportunities, connecting families and friends, and increasing tourism.’

Andy McDonald, Labour MP for Middlesbrough, said: ‘I am delighted that, after nine years of campaigning since I was first elected, this new direct link from Middlesbrough to London is finally here.  

‘It is hugely welcome and a positive step towards much needed improved rail connectivity for the area. Being able to travel to Parliament from my hometown will make for a far more convenient commute and I am sure local travellers, both business and pleasure, will benefit from this new service.’ 

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: ‘I pledged to get direct trains to London and after critical months of work, I’m delighted to see the first Azuma roll in. Phase one of our £34million upgrade is complete with phase two following early next year.

‘This connection will become increasingly important as we drive forward Teesworks and the Teesside Freeport and capitalise on all of the opportunities these provide. We’re making improvements at stations right across our region to give local people the fast, reliable and smooth transport network they deserve.’

Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston added: ‘Middlesbrough really is making huge strides towards an exciting and prosperous future, and this is another major milestone on that journey. We’re all about creating opportunity, jobs and aspiration for young people, and 21st century transport links like this are key to making that happen.

‘This is just the start – it’s an important step, but there’s so much more to come.’