Northumberland County Council has welcomed fresh Government support to bring back rail passenger services to the county’s south-east.
Council leader, Coun Peter Jackson, has committed to reintroducing direct trains between south-east Northumberland and Newcastle Central Station.
The Government has now reaffirmed the Department of Transport’s support for the scheme, as part of Transport Secretary Chris Grayling’s new rail strategy that could see the reopening of some lines that were closed in the 1960s.
This new Northumberland line is among those proposals across the country ‘currently being looked at and candidates for further consideration’.
The next stage of the new Northumberland Line (GRIP 3) involves assessing and selecting the most appropriate options that deliver the council’s requirements and establishes the scheme can be delivered at the right cost. Work is being progressed and a report prepared for councillors to discuss in the coming weeks.
Coun Jackson said: “We have always supported this ambitious proposal to help secure future jobs and growth across the whole county.
“This is positive news from central government and reaffirms their support to work with us on this flagship project.”
He added: “While there is still some way to go until passenger trains are running again, a great deal of work is happening behind the scenes which has our full support. It’s good to hear the Government is backing our strategy.
“We have an ambitious and forward-looking aspiration for our county and we will work with all partners and especially with the Government to deliver a prosperous future for everyone in Northumberland.”
Reintroducing passenger services to the current freight line could boost the local economy by up to £70million with more than 380,000 people using the line every year by 2034.
Commuters and shoppers could travel between Ashington and the heart of Newcastle in as little as 38 minutes, with several new or rebuilt stations along the route linking towns to key areas of employment, training and leisure attractions as well as providing transport links across the wider region and the UK.