Long-awaited Northumberland Line delayed with no timescale for completion

Construction crews work to install the new road bridge at Newsham, Blyth for the long-awaited Northumberland Line. Credit: Northumberland County Council

A project to bring passenger rail back to south east Northumberland has been delayed -with no timescale on when the project will be completed.

Northumberland County Council has said trains will be running on the line that will connect Ashington, Blyth and Bedlington with Newcastle by the end of 2024 but declined to set a more specific date.

It comes after reports surfaced that stations at Blyth Bebside and Bedlington could open later than their counterparts on the line.

The long-awaited route, which will bring passenger rail back to south east Northumberland for the first time since the 1960s, was due to open next summer. 

The Northumberland Line will connect Ashington, Bedlington and Blyth with Newcastle once fully operational.

The leader of Northumberland County Council, Glen Sanderson, said last week it was “too early” to say when the line would open next year.

The council has now said that all partners are “working hard” to complete the project and more details on an opening date will be shared in the future.

A spokesman for the county council said: ”While there have been some delays, not entirely unexpected in a complex infrastructure project of this scale, all partners are working hard to get the Northumberland Line open, and we will share further updates once timings are clear.

“This project, which will see passenger trains running again from 2024, will have a transformational impact on transport and connectivity in the area.

"The line will bring huge benefits in terms of work and education opportunities, inward investment, tourism and business growth in the county.”

Meanwhile, hundreds of people have signed a Labour-led petition demanding more resources for the Northumberland Line project.

The petition calls on the government, Northumberland County Council and Network Rail to provide the resources for the project to be completed on time.

It reads: “We, the undersigned, are outraged by the decision to deprioritise the opening of both Bedlington and Bebside stations and to press ahead with the wider reopening of the Ashington, Blyth and Tyne line without them.

"Local residents will be significantly impacted by the lines reopening and without all stations reopening will see no benefits.

“It is immoral to press ahead with only a partial reopening of the line and any effort to do so will result in the backlash of the community who will rightly feel they are valued less than people in other places.

"We call upon Northumberland County Council, the Government and Network Rail to ensure the resources are made available to deliver all stations on time and to ensure that the full line is opened on completion.”

The railway line was originally due to open this month. However, it was later pushed until summer 2024, before the latest delay.

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