Background to the Northumberland Line

I’m delighted that the re-introduction of direct passenger trains between south-east Northumberland and the centre of Newcastle in the next three years is nearer than ever. It’s been a long-held ambition of this council to get trains running again on the Northumberland Line and over recent years we’ve made a great deal of progress. There’s ever more confidence our long-term aspirations are going to become reality – bringing social and economic benefits to residents, commuters, visitors and businesses both in Northumberland and the wider region. 

 






 

 

Glen Sanderson 

Leader of Northumberland County Council 

Councillor Glen Sanderson sitting on a train riding on the Northumberland Line.

Scheme overview

The Northumberland Line aims to stimulate and support economic growth, regeneration and community development in Northumberland and the surrounding regions by providing new and improved transport links for local people and businesses.

 

The project will provide six new stations at Ashington, Blyth Bebside, Bedlington, Newsham, Seaton Delaval and Northumberland Park, with journeys between Newcastle and Ashington taking about 35 minutes with no need to change trains. The station at Northumberland Park will be adjacent to the existing Tyne and Wear Metro station, bringing further opportunities for interchange and travel to other destinations, including on the Metro. We are exploring options for integrated ticketing between the two services. 

 

At Newcastle station, it is anticipated that Northumberland Line trains will run into platform one, with easy access to the city centre, Tyne and Wear Metro and national rail connections. 

The freight trains that currently use the railway will still be able to do so, helping support the economic aspirations of both Lynemouth Power Station and the Port of Blyth. 

The Northumberland line map showing the stations from Ashington to Newcastle.

Timeline

Milestone dates for the Northumberland Line: 

  • Autumn 2019 – Public consultation. 

  • November / December 2020 – Public consultation period.  

  • January 2021 – £34 million awarded from DfT.   

  • January 2021 – January 2022 - Planning applications submitted.  

  • January 2021 – Network Rail early enabling works start on site.  

  • May 2021 – Application for Transport and Works Act Order submitted to Secretary of State. 

  • June 2021 - Chase Meadows footbridge approved at Planning Committee. 

  • August 2021 – Morgan Sindall appointed as Stations contractor.   

  • September 2021 - Northumberland Park station approved at Planning Committee. 

  • November 2021 - Seaton Delaval station approved at Planning Committee. 

  • November 2021 - Bedlington station approved at Planning Committee. 

  • November 2021 – Transport and Works Act Order Inquiry held in Blyth. 

  • December 2021 – Network Rail early enabling works complete. 

  • September 2022 - Ashington station approved at Planning Committee. 

  • January 2022 - Blyth Bebside station approved at Planning Committee.  

  • January 2022 – Palmersville Dairy station underpass approved at Planning Committee. 

  • March 2022 - Newsham station approved at Planning Committee.  

  • June 2022 - Secretary of State approved the Northumberland Line Transport and Works Act Order.

  • June 2022 - Transport and Works Act Order challenge period begins. 

  • Summer 2022 - Construction on stations begins subject to Transport and Works Act Order and other planning approvals being secured.   

  • August 2022 - Transport and Works Act Order challenge period

  • End 2023 – Current expected start of passenger services. 

 

Planning applications

Details of the planning applications made to date and those which have been granted planning permission are set out below: 

  • Hospital level crossing application - following an application in September 2021, consultation took place from April - May 2022.  

    • An application for the closure of the crossing and the removal of the public right of way running over it has now been submitted to Northumberland County Council as the local highway authority. 

  • Chase Meadows footbridge application – Approved in June 2021  

  • Palmersville Dairy level crossing application – Approved in January 2022 

Transport and Works Act Order 

On 26 May 2021, Northumberland County Council submitted a Transport and Works Act Order (TWAO) application to the Secretary of State for Transport to authorise certain matters related to the Northumberland Line.  

Transport and Works Act Order is an application to the Secretary of State for Transport to authorise certain matters related to the Northumberland Line. 

An Inquiry was held at Blyth Civic Centre, commencing 9 November 2021. The outcome of the Inquiry was received in June 2022.  All of the documents and details on the Inquiry can be found here. 

The Transport and Works Act order can now be accessed online here.

Northumberland Line TWAO land plans 1-24 are set out below:

A railway crossing along the Northumberland Line

Railway heritage

The railway between Ashington and Newcastle used to run both passenger and freight services until the Beeching cuts in the 1960s. Since then, freight trains have continued to use the line, primarily serving Lynemouth Power Station. The lack of passenger railway services in the area has contributed to local congestion due to car and bus travel being the only viable forms of transport for many. 

 

Congestion and long journey times have contributed to the economic decline of the area, with people moving to live and work in other regions. 

The reintroduction of passenger services on the line has been an aspiration of Northumberland County Council for many years and the current political, social, economic and rail industry context means that it can now be successfully delivered. As a result of being awarded development funding from the DfT, the council has been working alongside partners since 2018 to develop the scheme. 

 

Northumberland County Council last consulted on the proposal for the Northumberland Line in September and October 2019. That consultation focused on raising awareness of the scheme and finding out more about what local people wanted from the service. Back then, we were also proposing delivering the project in two phases, with some stations opening before others. We are now proposing a single-phase delivery, which will see all stations on the route open at the same time.