Campaign for North Sea coast rail service launched
The aim of a new campaign is for a local rail service to run north of Morpeth, every hour of the day.
Dubbed the ‘North Sea Coast’ route, the South East Northumberland Rail User Group (SENRUG) wants to see the existing Metrocentre to Morpeth rail link extended north to Berwick, with Belford and Beal stations re-opened en route.
It is working with sister campaign group Rail Action Group East of Scotland (RAGES) north of the Scottish border, which is campaigning for a similar service from Berwick to Edinburgh – the two groups believe the new passenger routes should be linked together to create a new local rail service between Newcastle and Edinburgh, calling at all stations.
North of the border, stations at Reston and East Linton would also be re-opened.
There are some inter-city services running non-stop between Newcastle and Edinburgh, but SENRUG believes a local service serving all the smaller stations is needed as well.
Chairman Dennis Fancett said: “A through service such as this would create access to jobs and universities at either Newcastle or Edinburgh and boost the economies of the smaller towns and villages in both Northumberland and southern Scotland.
“We particularly feel there is an urgent need for a regular throughout the day service to Pegswood and Widdrington in the first instance, which could be delivered in advance of the full scheme.”
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The service would follow the Northumberland and Scottish coast paths for much of its route, as well as connecting with St Cuthbert’s Way, St Oswald’s Way, The John Muir Way and The Southern Upland Way, and campaigners expect that it would result in a major boost for tourism in both Northumberland and southern Scotland.
Mr Fancett added: “This is arguably the most scenic rail line in the entire UK, with glorious coastal views for much of its length, but you can’t get a local train along it. Neither can you travel easily from one local community to another.
“We would seek to form a Community Rail Partnership to market the route once the trains start running.
“With modern, electric local trains now able to run at 100 miles per hour, the new service would only need a few extra passing loops to enable non-stop and limited stop trains to overtake them.
“Department for Transport grants are available towards the cost of re-opening the stations and as a first step we are pressing Northumberland County Council to commission a study to confirm the feasibility of the scheme.
“In Scotland, this work has already been done and if a local service would work for Scotland, then it should do so for Northumberland as well.”
SENRUG is urging those who support the scheme to join the group. Details are available at www.senrug.co.uk