Northumberland County Council and Northern have put on a special service on part of the Northumberland line which will eventually see five of the six new stations which are going to be built as part of the development.
The new stations will be Northumberland Park, Seaton Delaval, Newsham, Blyth Bebside, Bedlington and Ashington. The line will also be getting an upgrade to 18 miles of track with the huge project providing local communities connectivity by rail.
The project which has been put forward by Northumberland County Council has been funded via the Governments Restoring Your Railway Fund which provides development funding to visit potential options to reinstate lost railway routes and services providing connectivity for communities.
The Department for Transport has funded £34 million for the project to create enhanced designs and necessary preparation work which with funding in place will see the entire project confirmed by the Government and also once the Transport and Works Act Order application has been approved and will mean the reinstatement of a regular passenger rail service from Ashington and Central Newcastle with multiple stops on the route.
Currently, the Northumberland Line is used for freight and as part of a bid to bring growth to the economy along with regeneration and community development within the local area and also surrounding regions. The new transport links are crucial to this aim by giving locals and businesses essential access to towns such as Ashington and Blyth to employment centres such as Newcastle. The line will also provide new opportunities for leisure, education and travel to grow and motivation for employers to invest in the local area.
The Northumberland line is planned to open for passenger services in the early part of 2024 with services being operated by Northern who are currently developing plans to put a timetable in place that will best support local communities and support the positive impact for the region that this line will bring.
Morgan Sindall have won the contract to oversee the building of the new stations and work is expected to begin during 2022. Network Rail is currently developing plans to upgrade both the track and infrastructure.
Cllr Glen Sanderson who is the leader of Northumberland County Council was invited to travel on the special service said: “It was fantastic to experience first-hand one of the journeys that hundreds of thousands of people will soon be able to enjoy and benefit from.
“Passenger services on the Northumberland Line will provide a huge economic boost in South East Northumberland and beyond, improve transport links, attract more visitors, and support growth sectors. It will also help to improve air quality and reduce carbon emissions, contributing greatly to our climate change targets in Northumberland.
“This is just one of the exciting projects taking place in the county which will benefit our residents, business and most importantly our environment for years to come.”
Cllr Martin Gannon, Chair of the North East Joint Transport Committee, said: “The Northumberland Line will be a wonderful asset for local people and helps us take further steps to encourage people out of their cars and onto cleaner, more sustainable forms of transport.
“This development demonstrates that the region has major ambitions, restoring passenger rail services has enormous benefits and this scheme is one of the major interventions which has been identified and agreed by our region in the North East Transport Plan.
“The line will offer enhanced opportunities for education, employment and leisure for the people of the North East and enhances public transport connectivity, offering a seamless transfer onto Tyne and Wear Metro at Northumberland Park.”
Kerry Peters, Regional Director at Northern, said: “Bringing new rail services to the north east as part of the Northumberland Line is really exciting and we’re honoured to be able to provide those services for all the communities based along the route.
“Rail plays a vital role in the economy of the north of England and we’re delighted to be able to play our part in opening up new leisure and business opportunities for the region.
“We’re currently working on proposals for the first timetables for the Northumberland Line and, initially, expect to offer and two trains per hour on weekdays and Saturdays between 6am and 7.30pm, with an hourly service after 7.30pm and on Sundays.”
Matt Rice, Route Director for Network Rail in the North and East, said: “We’re really excited to be able to be part of to the eagerly anticipated reintroduction of passenger services on the Northumberland Line.
“We’re confident that when the first passenger trains run in 2024 that they will be very well used by the local community, building on the significant contribution that freight services on the Northumberland Line already makes to our economy.
“The project will provide more employment and leisure opportunities for people across South East Northumberland, and it will help to boost the economy and attract new investment into the area.”
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