Voters keen on rail investment, says candidate

Scott Dickinson
Scott Dickinson

The reopening of passenger services on a Northumberland rail line will provide a major boost to people living in a large part of the county, according to a would-be Labour MP.

Earlier this week, the Gazette reported that Northumberland County Council has moved a step closer with its plans to re-open the Ashington Blyth and Tyne (AB&T) 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.

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 AB&T Line will work with the county council to ensure the project, which is due for completion in 2019, goes ahead.

Scott Dickinson, the business chairman of Northumberland County Council and the Labour candidate for the Berwick constituency said: “Since the announcement in the budget that the county council is going to invest heavily in the reopening of the AB&T line and that through ticketing is on offer from the combined authority, I have had all sorts of good contact with voters from the Berwick constituency, some regarding the rise in house prices expected across the rural coalfield due to the line making commuting easier and many who appreciate that it will be much easier to gain access to good-quality, highly-paid employment in Tyne and Wear without the major stress of sitting in the diabolical traffic that surrounds Newcastle and the Tyne Tunnel at peak times.

“Not only will this rail scheme revitalise large parts of Northumberland and improve our tourist offer, but it will expand the opportunity to lift the number of services delivered and people employed at Wansbeck General Hospital, the rural coalfields’, and therefore Berwick constituency’s, largest employer.

“I will be urging Network Rail to raise its game and speed up its GRIP studies to get this line opened as quickly as possible.”