Organisation pleased after talks on Northumberland Line

Support is continuing to grow over plans to reintroduce a rail connection in south east Northumberland.

Friday, 7th May 2021, 10:00 am
Plans are progressing to reopen the Northumberland Line from Ashington to Northumberland Park, in North Tyneside.

Regional lobbying organisation Construction Alliance North East (CAN) says it has been buoyed by talks with Northumberland County Council over the Northumberland Line Rail Project.

The council’s tender to deliver the ‘Northumberland Line Stations Construction Project’ indicates that a single national contractor will be appointed to deliver six new stations and car parks, including the associated infrastructure works between Ashington and Northumberland Park.

The long-awaited project received £34m in government funding from the Department for Transport which will rapidly progress the plans to reopen the Northumberland Line, which was closed to passengers in 1964.

Officials on the CAN board had been concerned that regional contractors were overlooked for the board, seeking a meeting with the council about its national contractor tendering process and to address concerns in the way of opportunities for regional contractors.

Ken Parkin, chair, said: “CAN very much welcomes this level of much needed spend on major infrastructure projects here in the North East, which of course brings construction jobs but also long-term economic benefits to our region.

"This project is also nationally the first rail project under the governments Project Speed initiative.

“In our meeting with the county council, we were keen to understand the procurement route chosen for this scheme which means that local main contractors will be unable to bid on this package of work.

"We were hoping that non-rail side works could be procured regionally, however it was explained that the drive was for certainty of accelerated delivery and the complex interfaces both within the council’s stations package and the wider project construction, meant that the procurement route of a Principal Contractor holding a Network Rail PC licence was in effect the only assured route forward.”

Last week, Minister of State for Transport, Chris Heaton-Harris confirmed six new stations as part of the project as he visited Blyth to meet local MP Ian Levy.

Mr Parkin, who is also a director at Opion Limited, added: “Intelligent procurement is central to our agenda and our key mission is to place our region’s construction companies at the heart of public and private sector supply chain strategies.

“It is important that CAN understands national issues which affect us here in the North East so we can learn from this in future and explain it to our regional membership.

“We are very grateful to NCC for taking the time to explain the reasoning behind this decision and very much look forward to working with NCC in future to understand how our members can be given the opportunity to bid for the expected spin off development and construction works that this scheme will undoubtedly bring."

The overall project is expected to cost £167million.

For more information on CAN, visit www.constructionalliancenortheast.co.uk/