Northumberland Train Line Redevelopment, Northumberland
The Northumberland Line – which was formerly referred to as the Ashington, Blyth and Tyne lines – connects Ashington with Tyneside via western Blyth and has a link to Morpeth.
Initially, the Northumberland Line was a passenger and freight railway, but passenger stations closed in 1964. This had a massive impact on the economy due to the lack of connectivity. Currently, the line is used for goods only, but Northumberland County Council hopes to reintroduce passenger services – which is expected to boost the local economy by up to £70m and improve connectivity to economically-deprived areas.
The scheme is considering the inclusion of six new stations and seeks to achieve competitive journey times – less than 40 minutes, depending on the line speed enhancements and calling patterns – between Ashington and Newcastle. An allowance for maintaining freight paths is also being included in the proposals. The route needs to consider: the future provision for service extensions to Woodhorn at the northern end; park and ride facilities, where appropriate; and capacity, line speed and signalling improvements.
The challenge for Northumberland County Council (NCC) was procuring in an efficient and cost-effective way. Perfect Circle swift and direct appointment via Scape Group’s National Built Environment Consultancy Services (BECS) framework – the most efficient route to market for public sector built environment projects – provided NCC with the opportunity to procure quickly and efficiently in an OJEU compliant way.
The scheme will have a major impact on the community and has received wide political support. It will influence Northumberland and regenerate the surrounding area socially, economically and environmentally leading to the re-invigoration of Ashington and other communities in the south east of the county.
It will improve passenger services into and out of Newcastle, in some cases halving people’s commutes. According to CBT’s report, building new stations would bring 33,800 people within 1km of a mainline railway station; vastly improving connectivity and opening opportunities for economic growth.
Reopening the Northumberland Line to passenger services will improve access to jobs in the south east of the county and the rest of the north east, as well as making development land in Northumberland attractive to inwards investment. It is estimated that 2,620 jobs will be created in and around the local communities.
Environmentally, the reopening of the Northumberland Line to passenger services will enable a shift from car to rail. This will lead to reduced congestion on the highway network and a reduction in carbon emissions. It will also reduce NO2 traffic emissions, which are harmful to health, and improve the air quality.