Track services

Northumberland line on track for opening in 2023

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

Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps has granted a Transport and Works Act (TWAO) order for the project, which gives the go-ahead for 18 miles of the route to be upgraded, alongside delivery 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 to authorize the closure of level crossings.

A month-long public inquiry into TWAO, led by a government-appointed inspector, took place in November 2021 before an application for an order was filed 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 program and that the restoration of passenger services on the Northumberland line is of considerable importance in ensuring improvements in public transport and contribute to an improvement in the social and economic conditions of South East Northumberland.

Construction work is due to start later this summer to upgrade a route that has been reserved for freight since passenger services were abolished in 1964.

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

Northern plans to operate 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.