Call to bring station back into use after rail-line nationalisation

The Flying Scotsman from the Mosscrop bridge passing Belford. Picture by Guy Renner-Thompson
The Flying Scotsman from the Mosscrop bridge passing Belford. Picture by Guy Renner-Thompson

A county councillor has called for a village station to be reopened, after the East Coast Main Line was nationalised.

The franchise agreement with Virgin Trains East Coast and Stagecoach Group has been axed, placing the running of the line back into the public sector, until 2020 at least.

And Bamburgh councillor Guy Renner-Thompson has used it as an opportunity to write to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, to campaign for Belford Station to be brought back into service.

He wrote: ‘During the announcement on the temporary nationalisation of the East Coast Main Line, it was refreshing to hear that you ‘want to see services on this route develop, and want to see new destinations and new kinds of service’.

‘With this in mind, I would like to draw your attention to Belford Station. The station has been closed since 1968, but over the last 20 years Belford Rail Users Group, and more recently, myself and the South-East Northumberland Rail Users Group, have been campaigning for its reopening.

‘The old station is located between Berwick and Alnmouth stations; both of which are reaching capacity and will require significant capital investment to increase parking provision being surrounded by residential buildings.

‘Belford, on the other hand, sits on the edge of an industrial estate by a greenfield site. It is also adjacent to the A1 and at the intersection of several major bus routes in the county. Aside from local usage, the station would be a gateway to the Cheviot hills and the coast.

‘Trains do use the station, but only to turn around. Unsuccessful funding applications have been made for a platform, but the business plans assumed only a single early morning and late evening service, which wouldn’t be much use to anyone.

‘The real opportunity comes from a stopping service between Newcastle and Edinburgh, which has the potential to be a real economic shot in the arm. Also, the new Transpennine Express franchise hopes to operate such a service from 2019, giving us another focus to reopen the station. The economic and social benefits of reopening our station outweigh the capital cost of implementation.’