The Department for Transport (DfT) has announced that passenger train services will return to the Northumberland Line in 2024.
The government is working with Northumberland County Council, Network Rail, and Northern to restore regular services from next summer, creating faster and easier journeys between Ashington and Newcastle.
Six new, fully accessible stations are being built along the route, with the investment forming part of the government’s Restoring Your Railway programme, which reopens old stations and lines across the country.
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.”
Once complete, the journey time between Newcastle and Ashington will be halved from 70 minutes to 35, with services operating seven days a week, providing easy access to jobs, education and tourism opportunities. It is also hoped that the line will encourage modal shift away from cars and onto rail, reducing congestion and improving air quality.
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.
“We have been working so hard over recent years to make this scheme happen, getting all the necessary planning and stations approved and preparing the line for the major works.
“This is the moment we’ve been working towards, and I am so excited we’ve reached this point as we prepare to get trains rolling again through this part of our county.”
The new line will stop at Ashington, Bedlington, Blyth Bebside, Newsham, Seaton Delaval, Northumberland Park and finally, Newcastle Central. Its construction work has created almost 100 high-skilled jobs and apprenticeships, demonstrating its benefits for the local community.
Matt Rice, Network Rail’s North & 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.
“We’re proud to be working with our industry partners on this truly revolutionary project, which will boost economic growth and bring a new lease of life to the region.”
Last year, representatives from Tyne Valley Community Rail Partnership were invited by Northern to join a special route familiarisation service along the Northumberland Line, with guests from DfT and local councils.
The first line to see a new lease of life under the Restoring Your Railway initiative was the Dartmoor Line, which reopened in November 2021 with support from the Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership. You can read about that line’s success here.