The Northumberland Line is a railway line redevelopment project that will reintroduce direct passenger trains between Ashington and Newcastle in the UK.
The £166m ($235m) project is being developed by Northumberland County Council and North Tyneside Council and is supported by the Department for Transport, Transport for the North and railway operators Network Rail, Nexus and Northern Rail. It is part of the UK government’s Restoring Your Railway programme aimed at reopening old stations and lines across the country.
Construction on the project commenced in 2022 and is expected to be completed in 2024. Upon completion of the project, the travel time between Newcastle and Ashington will be reduced from 70 minutes to 35 minutes.
The project is expected to support the economic regeneration of Northumberland and the surrounding regions by offering new and enhanced transportation options for residents. It is expected to generate economic benefits of up to £470m ($643.1m).
Line routes and stations of the Northumberland Line
The Northumberland Line will upgrade 18 miles (29km) of train tracks and develop six new stations at Ashington, Blyth Bebside, Bedlington, Newsham, Seaton Delaval and Northumberland Park. The location of the stations has been chosen based on passenger demand and journey times. The project also includes the development of three new footbridges and new signal locations.
The railway line between Ashington and Newcastle was used to transport both passengers and freight. The freight trains that currently utilise the railway will be able to continue operating, supporting the economic objectives of both Lynemouth Power Station and the Port of Blyth.
Network Rail has been working on track and signalling upgrades for the project since June 2021. The final planning application for station development was approved in March 2022.
Station design and facilities
Ashington station will be designed to enable future extension towards the north to locations such as Newbiggin and Woodhorn. It will include a single platform on the west side of the line. The existing car park of the station will be extended and will include electric vehicle charging bays.
The Bedlington station will feature two platforms: one platform for services to Ashington and the other to Newcastle. Additional facilities will include a ramped pedestrian access, a new highway access and parking space for cars, motorcycles, cycles and taxis.
The Blyth Bebside station will also have two platforms along with a footbridge to provide interchange between the two platforms. It will also include stairs and lifts on both sides in addition to parking for buses, cars and cycles. A new pedestrian and cycle bridge over the A189 will be developed to provide access to the station.
The third station of the line, Newsham, will include two platforms with a footbridge with lifts providing interchange between the platforms. A stepped pedestrian access, parking areas, highway accesses and an overbridge to divert A1061 will also be developed.
The single-platform Seaton Delaval station will include modifications to the existing highways to create pedestrian footways and parking areas.
The Northumberland Park station will also have a single platform with a pedestrian lift and staircase. It will be constructed close to the existing Tyne and Wear Metro station, which will enable interchange and transit to other places and access to national rail links.
The new stations will be completely accessible to people with limited mobility as well as those with other access needs. They will feature ticket machines, seating and shelters, car and cycle parking areas and CCTV cameras. The station designs allow for the future possibility of popup businesses such as coffee carts.
Funding for the project
The Department of Transport approved £34m ($46.5m) in funding towards the project in January 2021.
AECOM, an infrastructure consulting firm and SLC Rail, a rail consultancy, provided multidisciplinary project management, design, operations and advisory services during the project’s design phase. AECOM holds a 30% stake in SLC Rail, which it acquired in February 2022.
AECOM partnered with geotechnical contractor Soil Engineering Geoservices to conduct ground investigations for the project.
Perfect Circle, a property, construction and infrastructure consultancy, provided civil and structural engineering services.
In August 2021, construction and regeneration company Morgan Sindall Infrastructure (MSI) was awarded a £40m ($56m) contract for the construction of the six new stations of the Northumberland Line.
MSI contracted Ground Control, an external maintenance and biodiversity expert, for vegetation clearance along the line.
In February 2022, transport solutions provider Siemens Mobility was contracted to deliver a signalling system for the line.
Land Referencing Services, a land referencing specialist, provided line referencing servicing for the project.