James Hall, partner at Barton Willmore’s Newcastle office.
Matthew Neville

Newcastle planning specialist calls for Northumberland rail line reopening

Reopening the Newcastle to Ashington rail line should be the North East’s key infrastructure objective in 2022, according to planning specialists at Barton Willmore.

Barton Willmore claims key employment sites in Northumberland such as Lynefield Park, Energy Central, and Cowpen Lane Industrial Estate would benefit from enhanced connectivity.

James Hall, partner at Barton Willmore’s Newcastle office, called on central and local government to urgently prioritise the reopening, citing it as potentially the single most effective infrastructure investment that could be made in the next decade.

He said: “There’s significant job-creation potential in Northumberland. We need to ensure the success of those developments we already have, and facilitate others, by putting connectivity first.

“This rail link would put thousands of workers within commutable distance of key employment sites and open up this portion of South East Northumberland to even more inward investment.

“The economic success of Newcastle and Tyneside more broadly need not be at the expense of other places such as Seghill, Blyth and Ashington. Instead, by connecting them we create a stronger cluster of businesses.”

A spokesperson for Port of Blyth said: “We’ve already seen substantial inward investment into the area from companies looking to capitalise on the area’s expertise and facilities, particularly in sectors such as renewable energy, so improved transport links will help to make this part of Northumberland even more attractive to businesses and the people who work in them.”

The Newcastle-Ashington line was closed to passengers in 1964 as part of the Beeching cuts to rail services in the UK.

The project to reopen the line will provide “new and improved transport links for passengers by upgrading 18 miles of track and signalling, opening six new stations and three new footbridges”.

It is hoped that the line will be able to welcome back passengers by 2024.

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