Comment

15.04.19

Connecting the North East

Source: PSE April/May 2019

Cabinet member for economic regeneration at Northumberland County Council Richard Wearmouth outlines the plans to reintroduce passenger services between Ashington and Newcastle.

The reintroduction of passenger services on the existing freight-only line between Ashington and Newcastle has been an aspiration of the county council for many years.

There are countless benefits in bringing this line back to its former glory, and there’s a willingness not just from the council, but also from government and the many communities who’d benefit, to make this happen.

As an example, we recently had a train run along a section of the line to coincide with a visit by the secretary of state for transport Chris Grayling. The numbers of people who came out of their homes to watch the train go by, waving and taking photos, was a snapshot of the enthusiasm we all share for the scheme.

From a more strategic perspective, the reintroduction of passenger service accords with key local and regional policy in terms of promoting economic growth across south-east Northumberland.

Studies show that reintroducing passenger services to the current freight line could boost the local economy by up to £70m with more than 800,000 annual return journeys by 2038.

The Northumberland Line would directly serve communities along the A189 corridor (one of our key trunk roads), improving connectivity within the area and supporting many of the emerging employment opportunities in Blyth, Ashington, the rest of south-east Northumberland, and beyond our county boundaries to Cobalt Park and Newcastle city centre.

It will also provide a sustainable transport option by rail to the greatest concentration of jobs, retail and leisure opportunities in Tyne and Wear, and Newcastle in particular, as the regional capital for commerce and business.

Over the past couple of years, the scheme has really begun to gather a head of steam – there are endless puns when talking about railways! Our foundations for significant economic growth are in place and improved connectivity will allow us to build on this opportunity.

The emerging Strategic Outline Business Case for submission to the Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline (RNEP) process indicates a positive benefit-to-cost ratio for the scheme.

In the the coming months our work will also align with the requirements for the forthcoming Transforming Cities Fund (TCF) bid, for which the north east is preparing a strong submission for Tranche 2 of the fund.

We have to be honest and we know there is a long way to go. There is a need to maintain momentum with the development of the scheme and to plan for the next stage of development through the RNEP Process – Stage 2: Develop Stage.

To this end, we’ve recently agreed a further £3.5m towards this next stage which will include design work, business case refinement, a detailed highways impact assessment, and a range of engineering and ecology work.

So with the right funding in place, which includes securing financial contributions from the private sector, a fair wind and everyone pulling together, by the early 2020s commuters and shoppers could speed between Ashington and the heart of Newcastle in as little as 35 minutes.

It’s very ambitious, but we’re an ambitious council and we firmly believe this aspiration could soon become a reality.

 

Enjoying PSE? Subscribe here to receive our weekly news updates or click here to receive a copy of the magazine!

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

public sector executive tv

more videos >

latest public sector news

Neath Port Talbot Council threatens to pull out of £1.3bn Swansea Bay City Deal

17/04/2019Neath Port Talbot Council threatens to pull out of £1.3bn Swansea Bay City Deal

A council has threatened to pull out of Swansea Bay’s £1.3bn city deal unless it starts delivering projects in the next six months. ... more >
Flintshire council takes over litter enforcement services from controversial Kingdom

17/04/2019Flintshire council takes over litter enforcement services from controversial Kingdom

Flintshire County Council has taken over litter enforcement services in the county and urged residents to “take responsibility” over ... more >
City council rejoins ICS after reforms agreed in privatisation and accountability row

17/04/2019City council rejoins ICS after reforms agreed in privatisation and accountability row

Nottingham City Council is to rejoin its local NHS integrated care system (ICS) after significant reforms were made to the way the system runs in... more >
149x260 PSE Subscribe button

the raven's daily blog

Self-build builds potential for more and better homes

15/04/2019Self-build builds potential for more and better homes

The director of The Right to Build Task Force – which advises stakeholders on bringing on more custom and self-build homes – Mario Wolf, who is currently on secondment from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, discusses challenges the public sector needs to engage with to deliver housing supply growth. In... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

interviews

Digital innovation in the public sector: The future is now

17/12/2018Digital innovation in the public sector: The future is now

One of the public sector’s key technology partners has recently welcomed a new member to its team. Matt Spencer, O2’s head of public ... more >
Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

17/12/2018Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

It’s no secret that the public sector and its service providers need to invest in technology to help make better use of their resources. Bu... more >
New Dorset Councils CEO on the creation of a new unitary: ‘This is going to be the right decision for Dorset’

05/11/2018New Dorset Councils CEO on the creation of a new unitary: ‘This is going to be the right decision for Dorset’

The new chief executive of one of the new unitary authorities in Dorset has outlined his approach to culture and work with employees, arguing tha... more >
Keeping the momentum of the Northern Powerhouse

15/10/2018Keeping the momentum of the Northern Powerhouse

On 6 September, the biggest decision-makers of the north joined forces to celebrate and debate how to drive innovation and improvement through th... more >

last word

The importance of openness after Grenfell

The importance of openness after Grenfell

Following the recent Grenfell Tower tragedy, Lord Porter, chairman of the LGA, argues that if the public are going to have faith in the safety testing process then everything must be out in the o... more > more last word articles >

editor's comment

25/10/2017Take a moment to celebrate

Devolution, restructuring and widespread service reform: from a journalist’s perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to report on the public sector. That’s why I could not be more thrilled to be taking over the reins at PSE at this key juncture. There could not be a feature that more perfectly encapsulates this... read more >

public sector focus

Flexible working being led by the public sector, Softworks survey finds

26/02/2019Flexible working being led by the public sector, Softworks survey finds

The public sector is leading the way in regar... more >
Digital innovation in the public sector: The future is now

17/12/2018Digital innovation in the public sector: The future is now

One of the public sector’s key technolo... more >