Everything you need to know about the Northumberland Line
Plans to revive a rail route in Northumberland are moving at full steam.
Bosses hope the revamped Northumberland Line, formerly known as the Ashington, Blyth and Tyne Line, will be ready to open by 2024.
And with the green light now granted for the first of five new stations, it is hoped work could be ready to start in earnest next year.
Where will the Northumberland Line take me and how quickly will I get there?
Once open, rail operator Northern Trains plans to run a service from Newcastle Central Station to Ashington, stopping at Manors, Northumberland Park, Seaton Delaval, Newsham, Blyth Bedside and Bedlington along the way.
It is expected passengers will be able to travel the length of the line in 36 minutes.
Current plans are to run two trains per hour from Monday to Saturday, between 6am to 7.30pm, with one train per hour after 7.30pm and on Sundays.
Where will the stations go?
At the northernmost end of the line, plans have now been approved for a new station in Ashington at Kenilworth Road, between the War Memorial Garden and Ashington Cricket Club.
The layout in Ashington has also been chosen to allow future extensions of the line, to the likes of Newbiggin and Woodhorn.
The next stop, Bedlington, will see a new two-platform stop created just north of the existing level crossing at Station Road.
Heading south, the new Blyth Bebside station will be created on the western side of the A19, just south of homes at Heather Lea.
The third stop out of Ashington, Newsham, is due to be on land south of the A1061, where an existing level crossing is also set to be replaced with a new bridge.
Seaton Delaval will have just one platform for both north and southbound services on a site south of the A192, with access for vehicles expected to be created next to the Hastings Arms pub.
The final station expected to needs works before trains can run on the line is Northumberland Park, where a new platform will be created, allowing passengers to switch on to the Tyne and Wear Metro.
How will I be able to get to and from the new stations?
Bosses behind the scheme have set a “maximum walking distance” between stations and bus stops of 400m.
They are also in talks with bus operators about how to make the most of timetables.
Passengers are also set to benefit from free parking at the new Northumberland stops for at least a year after they open – although council chiefs rowed back on initial proposals to scrap charges for two years.
What happens next?
Applications have been submitted for five of the planned stations along the route.
Following NCC’s approval of plans for Ashington, further proposals have been submitted for Bedlington Station, Blyth Bebside and Seaton Delaval and are due to be determined by one of the council’s development committees later this year.
Plans for a station at Newsham are expected to be formally submitted later this month.
Plans to upgrade the current station at Northumberland Park to allow it to link up with the route are due to be ruled on by North Tyneside Council.
A public inquiry on an application for a Transport and Works Act Order from the Government to allow work to begin is due to commence from November 9.
When will trains start running?
Construction of stations and track works are expected to begin in earnest in summer 2022.
Officially, passenger services are slated to begin in 2024, although there have also been suggestions the route could be ready as early as December 2023.