Latest milestone for the Northumberland Line
Bosses behind the Northumberland Line rail project have reached their latest milestone, with more set to be hit in the coming months.
The return of passenger services to the route took a step forward this week with the green light for plans for a new station in Ashington.
Applications are also set to be decided on for a further five stops, while November will also see the start of a public inquiry into a Transport and Works Act Order which would see the government give the scheme the final thumbs up.
Coun Glen Sanderson, the Conservative leader of Northumberland County Council (NCC), who hailed a “great day for Northumberland” on a trial run of the service last month, said he was “really pleased” with the progress so far.
He added: “It’s definitely picking up pace as we begin to see work starting on the track and planning permissions being granted for new stations.
“There is a real buzz around the scheme and we know from speaking to residents along the route and businesses in the county how excited they are about the prospect of passenger trains running again by 2024.
“As well as the benefits to the economy, education tourism, the Northumberland Line will bring a range of green benefits to support our climate change agenda, helping to reduce congestion and improve air quality on key roads by moving people away from car travel and onto public transport.”
Previously known as the Ashington, Blyth and Tyne Line, the route is currently used for freight, but has not run a passenger service since 1964.
A report commissioned by the county council’s previous Labour administration reported in 2016 that trains could be running as soon as 2021.
And while that early deadline will be missed, it is hoped travellers will be using the service by 2024.
Coun Scott Dickinson, leader of the local authority’s Labour opposition group, said: “It’s really good to see the Labour commitment and investment coming to fruition.
“It will create opportunities for people to get jobs in Newcastle and in the different towns along the line, but also come into Northumberland on a more eco-friendly basis.”