Ashington to Newcastle rail link a step closer


The next stage of ambitious plans to reintroduce direct trains between south-east Northumberland and central Tyneside have been approved.

Passenger trains could be transporting thousands of residents a day in just over four years along the 20-mile route between Ashington and Newcastle city centre.

Northumberland County Council’s Cabinet welcomed Network Rail’s latest study which confirmed that restarting frequent, seven-day services to Newcastle on the Ashington, Blyth and Tyne (ABT) Line is feasible.

Reintroducing passenger services to the current freight line could boost the local economy by up to £70m with more than 380,000 people using the line every year by 2034, according to the report to Cabinet.

Commuters and shoppers could speed between Ashington and the heart of Newcastle in as little as 38 minutes, with several new or rebuilt stations along the route linking towns to key areas of employment, training and leisure attractions as well as providing transport links across the wider region and the UK.

It is also expected that visitor numbers into Northumberland will vastly increase once the line is opened up.

The line would connect to the existing Metro system and include secure waiting facilities, parking and connections to cycling and walking routes.

Network Rail’s initial estimates are the line will cost around £191m and the council has so far committed £5m for detailed development work on the project - £620,000 on the latest phase, known as GRIP 2 (Governance for Railway Investment Projects).

While trains could be running by early 2021, detailed design work could start in October 2018, with construction getting underway just four months later.