Northumberland line on track for 2023 opening

Ambitions to restore passenger services on the Northumberland Line have received approval from ministers, after passing a major planning hurdle. 

Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps has granted a Transport and Works Act Order (TWAO) for the scheme, which gives the green light for 18 miles of the route to be upgraded, alongside the delivery of six new stations and three new footbridges.

The TWAO gives Northumberland County Council the power to compulsorily purchase land for the line as well as authorising the closure of level crossings. 

A month-long public inquiry into the TWAO, led by a government-appointed inspector, ran in November 2021 before an application for the Order was made on May 26. 

The decision letter, dated June 27, said: “The SoS agrees with the Inspector that the Order is an integral part of the scheme and restoring passenger services to the Northumberland line is of considerable importance to securing improvements in public transport and contributing to an improvement in social and economic conditions in southeast Northumberland.”

Construction work is due to get under way later this summer on upgrading a route that has been freight-only since passenger services were withdrawn in 1964. 

Morgan Sindall has been appointed as primary contractor for the new stations, in a project that is expected to cost a total of £167 million. This will be jointly funded by Northumberland Council (£27.2m) and the Department for Transport. 

Northern plans to run a half-hourly service between Newcastle and Ashington, calling at intermediate stations at Bedlington, Bebside, Newsham, Seaton Delaval and Northumberland Park. 

To read the full story, see RAIL 961.

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