It’s been a long journey, but, if you’ll pardon the pun, there are signs that there could be light at the end of the tunnel for ambitious plans to re-start passenger rail services as far as Ashington and Bedlington.
It was back in the 60s when Dr Beeching swung his axe and local train services were stopped. However, after an encouraging study by Network Rail it appears seven-day-a-week services could be running again by 2021.
Northumberland County Council has been told that re-opening the Blyth and Tyne line and connecting services to the Metro is feasible, and trains could be carrying 380,000 travellers within 20 years.
When I was a member of Wansbeck District Council before local government re-organisation in 2009, we supported running a passenger train from Newcastle to Ashington, Bedlington and on to Morpeth, which demonstrated that the line could be re-opened. Since then a great deal of work has been going on behind the scenes to reach the stage we are at now.
A great deal more needs to be done before trains could start running again, but it is encouraging that the council has pledged £5m towards the cost of further developing the proposals.
Just think what a boost it would be to south east Northumberland in terms of the area’s economy, employment and leisure if we can welcome back the trains.
I, for one, sincerely hope it will happen and I will be lending my full support to what are exciting proposals.