First Trains Run on Proposed Northumberland Line Route

Special rail services have run between Newcastle and Morpeth in advance of the reintroduction of passenger trains on the Northumberland Line.

Northumberland County Council and train operating company Northern hosted the events at which trains travelled on a section of the line. Five or six new stations have been proposed along that particular stretch. They are: Northumberland Park, Seaton Delaval, Newsham, Blyth Bebside, Bedlington and Ashington.

Passenger train on the Northumberland Line
Passenger train on the Northumberland Line

As part of this proposed reintroduction, 18 miles of track are to be upgraded on the Northumberland Line. The funding is being provided by the UK government, from its ‘Restoring Your Railway Fund’, which provides development funding specifically to explore the restoration of rail services to communities that had them in the past before governmental line closures removed them.

For this project in particular the DfT made 34 million GBP available for the detailed design and preparatory works. Should the government approve the full funding for the scheme and the Transport and Works Act Order application be approved, regular passenger services can be reintroduced between Ashtington and the centre of Newcastle with additional stops in between.

Cllr Glen Sanderson, leader of Northumberland County Council, 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.”

At the moment, the Northumberland Line is used by freight trains. The new passenger line is set to open in early 2024 with services operated by Northern. Work on the line is to start in 2022, with Morgan Sindall constructing the new stations. Network Rail is working on its own plans to upgrade the track and infrastructure.

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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