A LEADING train company has announced it is to make more than 370 free car parking spaces available for people attending the NHS Covid-19 vaccine clinic at Newcastle's Centre for Life.

From Monday, January 18, London North Eastern Railway (LNER) will offer spaces at Newcastle Central Station’s long-stay car park free of charge to people invited to receive the vaccine.

A number of spaces have also been made available for NHS staff and members of the vaccination team helping with the large-scale roll out.

David Horne, LNER managing director, said: "Since the outbreak of the pandemic, we have been working hard to support communities along our route, as well as working to keep our customers and colleagues safe.

"As Newcastle has a major vaccination centre on the LNER route, we are offering free car parking at Newcastle Central Station’s long-stay car park to make it as easy as possible for people attending the vaccination centre.”

The venue, in Newcastle’s science village, is one of just seven centres to open earlier this month as part of the nationwide vaccination programme, the site covers the North-East and North Cumbria area.

Nurses, doctors, pharmacists and other NHS staff working nearby are being vaccinated, along with social care and care home workers.

Invitation letters are also being delivered to people aged 80 or over, who live within 45 minutes from the new centre, which explain how they can book an appointment.

Professor Neil Watson, chief operating officer for the Covid-19 vaccination programme for the North-East and North Cumbria, said: "This is a really generous offer from LNER and will make it easier for people to get to the centre for their appointments.

"But we are reminding people if they receive an invite from the national booking service with an appointment for the Centre for Life they can, if they prefer, wait and go to their GP practice for their vaccination.

"It is likely their invite will arrive from their GP very soon. There’s enough vaccine for everyone who wants one, so they don’t need to worry about making a trip to Newcastle if they are happy to wait until their GP contacts them.

"If they have received an invitation to be vaccinated already from their GP practice, we are asking them to keep this appointment rather than go to the Centre for Life. It will not be possible to get a vaccine at a vaccination centre without an appointment.”

People are being urged to attend their appointment just a few minutes ahead of their allocated slot, to ensure queuing is minimised outside the building.

Anyone who uses the barrier-controlled car park will be given a ticket on entering, which will be exchanged when checking-in at the Centre for Life, for a ticket allowing exit to the car park free of charge.

The LNER secure, long-stay car park has 13 accessible bays and is a short walk from the centre.