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Full Report: Northumberland railway set to be restored?

A proposal to re-open passenger rail services between Newcastle and Ashington in Nothumberland has been put before the Transport Secretary today.

The route was closed to passengers over 50 years ago and is now only used by freight trains.

It is hoped that the service could reverse economic decline and unemployment in South East Northumberland, as Richard Wilson reports.

Watch his full report below.

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Full report: Taxi drivers unhappy with new station layout

Taxi drivers in Newcastle say they're paying hundreds of thousands of pounds for just five spaces outside the city's train station.

Work has just started on improvements to the area, which will include pedestrianising what was the taxi pick-up point. Already, some of the drivers say they're unhappy with the new layout.

Watch Lucy Taylor's report here:

Taxi drivers unhappy with new layout of Newcastle Central station

Taxi drivers in Newcastle say they are paying hundreds of thousands of pounds for just five spaces outside the city's train station.

Work has just started on a multi-million pound refurbishment of the station. But already some taxi drivers say they are unhappy with the new layout.

Watch Lucy Taylor's report here:

Full Report: Bids begin for East Coast privatisation

Bids can begin for the East Coast mainline after the Government invited private companies to takeover the running of the service within the next two years.

Virgin Trains had already registered their interest within hours of the announcement - and more companies are set to follow.

The line was nationalised in 2009 when National Express struggled to meet their costs, but the Government now say that it is in the interest of passengers for it to be handed back to a private company.

However, unions believe that the move would waste millions of pounds.

You can watch the full report from Dan Ashby below.

Dan joins Pam in the studio to explain what privatising East Coast could mean

The government has announced that the North East's most important rail route will be run by a private company within two years time.

Bidding opened today for the East Coast mainline, and already Virgin Trains has expressed an interest.

Our correspondent Dan Ashby joined Pam in the studio to explain more about what the move to privatisation could mean for the North East.

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Statement from East Coast on privatisation

East Coast are inviting private companies to bid for the rail franchise Credit: East Coast

East Coast have released a statement about the planned return of the franchise to privatisation.

A full statement from an East Coast spokesperson can be read below:

"We always believed that a return of this franchise to the private sector was inevitable.

"Since we took over in 2009, we have repaid more than £640m to the taxpayer, achieved record-breaking customer satisfaction and the best performance on the route since records began in 1999.

"We are working on a plan for the next five years of the franchise which will consider some major decisions and projections for growth. This will be available to assist the future owner, whoever that is."

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Labour: Franchising won't help passengers

Maria Eagle MP, Shadow Transport Secretary, has responded to the Government’s plans for rail franchising:

“The full scale of the chaos caused by the Government’s rail franchising fiasco has now been revealed with almost every contract delayed by up to a staggering fifty months. Ministers have still not come clean about the full extent of the losses facing taxpayers as a result of this scandal, despite many industry experts putting the likely cost at well over £100 million and a series of legal disputes yet to be settled.

– Maria Eagle MP, Shadow Transport Secretary

It is completely the wrong decision to focus obsessively on an unnecessary privatisation of InterCity services on the East Coast, instead of prioritising getting the existing stalled franchise programme back on track. Ministers must be very careful not to mislead the public as they make their case for this misguided sell-off. It is simply wrong to suggest that planned public investment in the East Coast Main Line by Network Rail and the taxpayer funded order for a new generation of InterCity trains would not be happening without this privatisation.

– Maria Eagle MP, Shadow Transport Secretary

The truth is that the current not for private profit operator has returned £640 million to taxpayers and reinvested a further £40 million, profit that in future will be shared with shareholders rather than benefiting passengers under the Government’s plans.

– Maria Eagle MP, Shadow Transport Secretary
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