Plans for new passenger service remain on track

The old platforms at Ashington Railway Station.
The old platforms at Ashington Railway Station.
  • Boost given to reinstating passenger services between Ashington and Newcastle
  • Plans to have half-hourly service at peak times
  • New services between MetroCentre and Morpeth in 2017

Northumberland County Council has moved a step closer with its plans to re-open the Ashington Blyth and Tyne Freight Line to passenger services.

The Department for Transport’s (DfT) Invitations to Tender document sets out its expectations for companies bidding to run train services across the north of England for the next eight-to-10 years.

This is an exciting project of regional significance and it’s great to see this commitment in black and white to supporting the scheme

Coun Grant Davey, leader of Northumberland County Council

One of the requirements is that bidders ‘must be proactive in supporting and driving forward the development and implementation of proposed new station and line re-opening projects’ and refers specifically to a requirement to support the reinstatement of passenger services between Ashington and Newcastle.

The winning bidder for the Ashington Blyth and Tyne Line will work with the county council to ensure the project, which is due for completion in 2019, goes ahead.

The scheme will re-open the existing freight line between Newcastle and Ashington to passenger services, with a likely hourly service between Ashington and Newcastle and half-hourly service at peak times.

Allowance will be made in the proposed timetable to accommodate the existing freight use of the line as well as providing scope for increased freight demand.

One of the key pledges in last week’s county-council budget was a commitment to investing £350m in a range of capital projects, including the reintroduction of the line.

Coun Grant Davey, leader of Northumberland County Council, said: “This is an exciting project of regional significance and it’s great to see this commitment in black and white to supporting the scheme.

“This line will have a number of benefits, it will be an added incentive for potential employers to relocate to the area, as well as improving transport links to employment for residents.

“It’s also positive to see planned improvements to other services within the county over the coming years.”

Other positive news in the document includes new Sunday services between the MetroCentre and Morpeth from December 2017, improved frequency of services between Hexham and Carlisle and the extension of TransPennine Express services north of Newcastle towards Edinburgh.

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