Northern and Northumberland County Council have held a series of events, running trains along part of a proposed route on which five of six new stations will be built.
The plans will see passengers able to use the Northumberland line to travel between Ashington and Newcastle again, after money from the government’s Restoring Your Railway Fund was allocated to the scheme.
In addition to new stations at Northumberland Park, Seaton Delaval, Newsham, Blyth Bebside, Bedlington and Ashington, the Northumberland line will also result in an upgrade of 18 miles of track to provide local communities with better connectivity. The scheme was proposed by Northumberland County Council.
The Department for Transport provided £34 million towards detailed design and preparatory works which, subject to funding for the delivery of the full scheme being confirmed by the government, and the recently submitted Transport and Works Act Order (TWAO) application being approved, will allow for the reintroduction of a regular rail passenger service and supporting infrastructure on the route by 2024. The line is currently in partial use by freight trains.
Work on the Northumberland line is expected to begin next year, with Morgan Sindall in place to construct the new stations. Network Rail has drawn up its own infrastructure upgrade plans to complement this.
Regional director at Northern, Kerry Peters, said: “Bringing new rail services to the North East as part of the Northumberland line is really exciting and we’re honoured to be able to provide those services for all the communities based along the route.
“Rail plays a vital role in the economy of the north of England and we’re delighted to be able to play our part in opening up new leisure and business opportunities for the region.
“We’re currently working on proposals for the first timetables for the Northumberland line and, initially, expect to offer two trains per hour on weekdays and Saturdays between 6am and 7.30pm, with an hourly service after 7.30pm and on Sundays.”
Route director for Network Rail in the North and East, Matthew Rice, said: “We’re really excited to be able to be part of to the eagerly anticipated reintroduction of passenger services on the Northumberland Line.
“We’re confident that when the first passenger trains run in 2024 that they will be very well used by the local community, building on the significant contribution that freight services on the Northumberland Line already makes to our economy.
“The project will provide more employment and leisure opportunities for people across southeast Northumberland, and it will help to boost the economy and attract new investment into the area.”