Costing study will help train plans progress

Councillor Ian Lindley with John Pritchard from N.B. Clark, Steve Curry from Network Rail and digger driver Harry Bell at the new car park being created near Morpeth railway station.
Councillor Ian Lindley with John Pritchard from N.B. Clark, Steve Curry from Network Rail and digger driver Harry Bell at the new car park being created near Morpeth railway station.

PLANS to restore train services on the Ashington, Blyth and Tyne line are still progressing.

The South East Northumberland Rail User Group (Senrug) hosted a public meeting last Wednesday where they received an update on transport plans from Northumberland County Council’s executive member for infrastructure and environment, Simon Reed.

He said progress was being made on reinstating passenger trains along the route.

“We are looking at getting a GRIP13 costing study done by spring 2013, and into the Northern Rail franchise discussions,” he said.

“Although some of these things take some time, we are making progress.

“If we have this GRIP study completed in time, and get it into the Northern Rail franchise, there are good prospects of this being delivered.”

Meanwhile, changes are already taking place at Morpeth station to include the provision of information screens and 75 additional car parking spaces.

The pay-and-display car park in Coopies Lane is being provided by the county council in partnership with Network Rail, and is expected to take around six to eight weeks to complete.

The new facility will have lighting, an electric car-charging point and be height restricted so that it cannot be used by HGVs.

Parking restrictions will also be introduced to Coopies Lane and surrounding residential areas to prevent nuisance parking by non-residents.

Senrug chairman Dennis Fancett recently said: “The council itself does not operate rail transport, but can be very influential in lobbying for improvements and supplying funding where required.

“Our argument for getting the trains running again is based on the need to re-invigorate the economy of south east Northumberland through creating access to a wider range of jobs in Newcastle city centre and other places.

“Senrug believes there is a very good chance this scheme can progress, so that the next time a tranche of infrastructure investment is announced, we can see some of that money coming to the north east and to south east Northumberland in particular.”