Rail passengers on the coast of southern Northumberland will once again be able to travel by train to Newcastle and onwards to other parts of Britain from 2024 – six decades after the line closed as part of the Beeching cuts.
The restored link from Ashington largely involves upgrading freight lines that were part of the old Blyth & Tyne network for passenger use.
At present the only rail link in the region is the East Coast main line, which follows an inland route through southern Northumberland.
The restored line will serve five intermediate stations on the journey from Ashington to Newcastle: Bedlington, Blyth Bebside, Newsham, Seaton Delaval and Northumberland Park – which will provide interchange to the Tyne & Wear Metro.
Blyth Bebside is around two miles west of the town of Blyth itself.
The end-to-end journey time on the restored route is expected to be 35 minutes, with trains every half-hour.
The project is part of the Government’s Restoring Your Railway programme, which is seeking to restore some of the lines that fell victim to the mass closures of the 1960s under a plan known as The Reshaping of British Railways.
The Transport Secretary, Mark Harper, said: “Communities in Northumberland can get ready for regular train services that will better connect people to jobs, education and opportunities while growing our economy.
“Restoring lost railway connections will drive tourism, boost local business opportunities and encourage investment across our regions, which is why I’m pleased to say that we are on track to reopen this historic line next summer.”
Northumberland County Council Leader, Glen Sanderson, said: “We are delighted to have reached this major milestone which gives the green light for the main construction works to start. This is such a transformational scheme which will bring benefits for residents, businesses and visitors for generations to come.”
Matt Rice, Network Rail’s North and East Route Director said: “This is hugely welcome news as we get closer to delivering a transformed railway which will support the re-introduction of regular passenger trains and connect communities in Northumberland and Newcastle.”
The announcement came a week after figures from the Office for Rail and Road revealed rail services are more unreliable – in terms of on-the-day cancellations – than since records…
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