The government’s transport minister has got involved in a residents’ campaign to get better rail services for Market Rasen.
The town’s MP Sir Edward Leigh has contacted the Department for Transport and East Midlands Trains over the ‘serious’ lack of trains serving Market Rasen.
In a letter to transport minister Stephen Hammond, Sir Edward said: “It is regularly the case that scheduled trains serving Market Rasen do not have sufficient rolling stock.
“There is frequent overcrowding on the trains, and people who need this service are being left on the platform. I have even heard of a lady on crutches who was not able to make a vital doctor’s appointment in Newark because of the undersupply of rolling stock on this route.”
Speaking later, Sir Edward said rail users in Market Rasen were “victims” of East Midlands Trains’ decision to prioritise capacity on the Nottingham to Liverpool route.
He said: “East Midlands Trains blames poor capacity on their contract with the Department for Transport, but the DfT claims each train operating company is responsible for capacity themselves.
“We in this part of Lincolnshire are clearly seen as an acceptable sacrifice for increased capacity on the Nottingham to Liverpool route. This is not acceptable.”
Market Rasen Rail User Group (MR RUG) member Lynda Bowen said campaigners were delighted to have Sir Edward’s support.
She said: “It is both appropriate and timely that our MP exposes the current blame game.”
More than 300 residents responded to a MR RUG survey - and all agreed the current service was not good enough.
Mrs Bowen said: “Trains arrive full, leaving passengers stranded or packed tightly into carriages which are seriously overcrowded. Our services fail to connect with mainline trains at Newark and Doncaster, meaning long waits and extended journey times - and no service at all on a Sunday.”
Since MR RUG set up at the end of last year four members have been forced to move from Market Rasen to Lincoln due to the train service.
Mrs Bowen said: “Poor public transport is undoubtedly making it difficult to visit or live and work in Market Rasen if you don’t drive or cannot afford to maintain a car.
“We need the minister of transport and East Midlands Trains to show that they are listening to the people in this area and make the changes that we are asking for.”
MR RUG wants hourly trains to Newark, more seating on trains and an all year round Sunday service.
But according to Mrs Bowen, services are getting worse. She said: “Sunday services have ended for the winter, the 6.32am Monday morning service is packed as weekly commuters can no longer return to London on Sunday evening.”
And there are concerns there will be even more congestion problems this week due to Lincoln Christmas Market visitors.
MR RUG says more people are now using the station - is urging everyone who cannot get on a service to complain to East Midlands Trains. Complaint leaflets can be picked up at the station.