Students put forward case for return of rail line’s passenger service

Hirst Park Middle School's winning team in the SENRUG Ashington, Blyth and Tyne DVD competition. (left to right) Liam Armstrong, Brian Cosgrove, Dylan Mackenzie, SENRUG Chairman Dennis Fancett, Northumberland County Council Deputy Leader Dave Ledger, Kaly Douglas, School Vice Principal Sharen Bell, and Olivia Sprudd.
Hirst Park Middle School's winning team in the SENRUG Ashington, Blyth and Tyne DVD competition. (left to right) Liam Armstrong, Brian Cosgrove, Dylan Mackenzie, SENRUG Chairman Dennis Fancett, Northumberland County Council Deputy Leader Dave Ledger, Kaly Douglas, School Vice Principal Sharen Bell, and Olivia Sprudd.

Young filmmakers have trained their sights on bringing more rail services to Northumberland.

Five schools have taken part in a South East Northumberland Rail User Group (SENRUG) DVD competition to support its long-running campaign to re-instate passenger services on the Ashington, Blyth and Tyne line.

The budding presenters, animators, editors and directors were asked to create a seven to ten-minute film setting out the business case for the scheme.

And the DVDs from six teams were shown at a special SENRUG meeting in Morpeth Town Hall on Friday, before the prizes were dished out by Northumberland County Council Deputy Leader Dave Ledger.

Hirst Park Middle School took the top prize of £250, plus a trip for four pupils to present their DVD to Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery in London and tour the Northern Rail Control Centre at York.

The runners-up, who each received £50 vouchers, were Morpeth’s Collingwood School and Media Arts College and Cramlington Learning Village, while Highly Commended certificates were presented to King Edward VI School and two teams from Northumberland Church of England Academy.

The competition was supported by the News Post Leader, Arch development company, East Coast, Cross Country and Northern Rail.

SENRUG chairman Dennis Fancett said: “It’s been fantastic to see a whole new generation of young people engage with the importance of railways, the way they can regenerate communities and the need to get Ashington back on the map. I’d like to thank everyone who has made this competition possible.

“The teams have done exceptionally well. All of the DVDs are good and we are delighted that schools have participated in this.”

The meeting heard that the scheme is a priority for Northumberland County Council and has now passed the first of eight processes to ensure it is feasible.

The council estimates the project will cost £60m, but would generate more in benefits. If all goes to plan, trains could be operating on the line in 2019.

The winning Hirst Park Middle school entry can be seen on YouTube at

http://youtu.be/IfUtkPO5tHs or on the school’s website at http://hirstparkmiddle.org/index.php/senrug-video