The Northumberland Line – bringing passenger services back between the South East of the county and central Newcastle – will be open from Summer 2024.
With a journey time between Ashington and central Newcastle of around 35 minutes, the line will improve accessibility to employment, training and leisure for residents in south east Northumberland, as well as opening up new opportunities for education and travel.
To allow for services to start at the earliest possible opportunity, a phased approach is confirmed for opening – with Ashington, Newsham and Seaton Delaval open from this summer.
However, a great deal of work remains to be completed, such as the commissioning of the new signalling system over the coming months ,and continued good progress this Winter and Spring is critical to getting services running again.
Work is ongoing to get the other planned stations opened as quickly as possible, although the exact dates are still to be finalised.
Council Leader Glen Sanderson said: “We’re delighted to confirm passenger trains will be running from Summer 2024 and this will be an absolute game changer for transport in the area.
“The line will bring so many benefits in terms of work and education opportunities, inward investment and business growth in the county and a reduction in congestion.
“We understand there may be some disappointment by adopting this phased approach and thank people for their patience while this critical work continues.
“Every single person involved with the Northumberland Line is working hard to deliver this fantastic scheme – but a lot of hard work still lies ahead.
“This is a hugely complex project with major station construction works being undertaken at six separate sites, signalling and track improvements along the line and changes to numerous level crossing points all of which must be co-ordinated and undertaken to minimise disruption to local communities, rail freight services and road users.
“As with any project under construction, challenges and issues have arisen, but we can’t let that overshadow the fact that the service will be up and running this year or the benefits that will bring.
“At the same time it’s crucial we get the Northumberland Line open and allow people to start making use of the line as soon as possible.”
There are a variety of issues that have arisen which mean it is not possible to open all six stations this summer.
The most common causes at the remaining stations are adverse ground conditions – including contamination and buried services, inflationary pressures and historic mine workings. There are also complex interfaces with signalling and access to the railway which remains open to freight trains.