Public inquiry into Northumberland Line due to open this week
Arguments for and against the Northumberland Line rail project are due to be heard at a public inquiry, which is expected to last four weeks.
A Government-appointed inspector is scheduled to spend the rest of November hearing evidence on the proposed link between Newcastle and Ashington.
And it is hoped once completed it will pave the way for passenger services to begin running on the route for the first time since 1964.
The series of hearings – which are slated to be staged in Blyth Civic Centre from Tuesday, November 9 – are being held to rule on a Transport and Works Act Order (TWAO) needed to authorise track works.
Earlier this year, the Department for Transport allocated £34million to restarting regular commuter services on what was once the Ashington, Blyth and Tyne Line.
Over the next four weeks, families, county councillors and businesses in Northumberland will have the opportunity to speak to the inquiry.
Bernicia Group, a housing provider; Northumberland Estates, which manages the interests of the Duke of Northumberland; Viscount Ridley, former chairman of the failed bank Northern Rock; and Malhotra Commercial Properties, which controls a large portfolio of land across the North East, are all among those listed to give evidence.
The process is currently expected to conclude on Thursday, December 2, with several days set aside for site visits or recesses in proceedings.
Planning permission has already been granted for new stations serving the line, which was shut to everything except freight traffic in the Beeching cuts of the 1960s.
Northumberland County Council has already approved planning applications for new stations at Ashington, Bedlington and Seaton Delaval.
Further proposals for stations at Blyth and Newsham are expected to be ruled on later this year.
North Tyneside Council has given the green light for changes to the Northumberland Park station on the Tyne and Wear Metro, which will allow travellers to switch between the two services.
It is hoped that construction will begin in earnest in summer 2022, with services expected to start running in 2024.
See www.northumberland.gov.uk/line for more information on the line and the public inquiry.