Business leaders in North Tyneside have been given a glimpse into the future of commuter travel as they boarded a special train service on what will be the new Northumberland Line.
As part of the Cobalt Business Park Ride in Mobility week, Northern hosted the event, which saw a train travel along the route that will see five of the six proposed new stations built.
Businesses from nearby Cobalt Park – the UK’s largest office park – took part in the event. The new Northumberland Line station at Northumberland Park will be just 2km from the facility.
The Northumberland Line, currently only partially used by freight trains, aims to boost economic growth in the wider region, as well as provide a more sustainable way to travel.
The scheme will improve access from towns such as Ashington, Bedlington and Blyth to employment hubs like Newcastle, as well as opening-up new opportunities for leisure, education and travel. It will also provide a real incentive for potential employers to relocate to and invest in the local area.
Led by Northumberland County Council, the project has been made possible thanks to the Government’s Restoring Your Railway Fund, which offered development funding to explore options to restore lost rail services connections to communities.
Earlier this year the Department for Transport provided £34 million towards detailed design and preparatory works which will allow for the reintroduction of a regular passenger rail service between Ashington and central Newcastle, with several stops in between.
Kerry Peters, regional director at Northern, said: “We are proud to be a part of this scheme, bringing new rail services to the North East as part of the Northumberland Line will help boost the economy in the region as well as connect communities based along the route.”
With the new line set to fully operational by early 2024, Northern – which will operate all passenger services – is already developing plans to provide a timetable that will help local communities and deliver this positive impact for the region.
As well as the new stations – Northumberland Park, Seaton Delaval, Newsham, Blyth Bebside, Bedlington and Ashington – the Northumberland Line will also result in an upgrade of 18 miles of track to provide local communities with enhanced connectivity.
Councillor Wojciech Ploszaj, Northumberland County Council Cabinet Member responsible for Business said: “This is a great opportunity for businesses along part of the route to see for themselves the benefits this line will bring – not just shortly but for future generations.
“As the scheme progresses, we’ll be looking to bring businesses from across the North East onto these special services.”
Image credit: Northern