Rail scheme on track for next stage
05 Feb 2019 ARCHIVED (over 3 months old) - view latest news
A further £3.5m investment is set to be agreed towards bringing back rail passenger services throughout south east Northumberland.
The council is determined to reintroduce direct trains between south-east Northumberland and Newcastle Central - with thousands of residents a day being transported along the 20-mile route between Ashington and Newcastle city centre.
Reintroducing passenger services to the current freight line could boost the local economy by up to £70m with more than 800,000 annual return journeys by 2038.
Council leader Peter Jackson said: "We have always supported this ambitious proposal to help secure future jobs and growth across the whole county.
"The reintroduction of passenger services on the existing freight only line has been an aspiration of the County Council for many years and fits with key local and regional policy in terms of promoting economic growth across South East Northumberland.
“The feasibility work we commissioned is nearing completion and the emerging strategic outline business case indicates there is a positive benefit.
“It’s important we maintain momentum with the development of the scheme and commit financially towards the next stage which will include design work, business case refinement, a detailed highways impact assessment and a range of engineering and ecology work.
“I’m particularly pleased the scheme is now being recognised as one of regional importance in the Government’s Transport for the North proposals.
“I am determined as Leader of the council to make the case for continued investment in our great county.”
The aim is to submit an outline business case and proposal for detail design by the end of the year with passenger services planned to commence in 2022.
Councillor Richard Wearmouth, Cabinet Member for Economic Regeneration, added: “Commuters and shoppers could speed between Ashington and the heart of Newcastle in as little as 35 minutes, with several new or rebuilt stations along the route linking towns to key areas of employment, training and leisure attractions as well as providing transport links across the wider region and the UK.
“By its very nature this is an extremely ambitious long-term project and it’s important residents know a lot of work is going on behind the scenes to make this happen.
'And while there is still much work to be done to make the case for investment this is a significant step down that road'