New Belford station included in North East transport wishlist
A new vision for how the North East rail system can be improved over the next decade is expected to be approved next week.
The North East’s first rail and metro strategy includes a series of ambitious proposals, including a new station in Belford and improvements to the ‘totally inadequate’ existing service for residents of Pegswood, Widdrington, Acklington and Chathill.
The proposal also highlights the lack of a direct service from North Tyneside to the East Coast Mainline and states: ‘Possible future access will be explored as part of the further study work required on the ECML to the north of Newcastle.”
The possibility of several Tyne and Wear Metro extensions, with a new ‘inner loop’ in North Tyneside to serve new stations in the Silverlink and Cobalt business park, is also highlighted.
It is suggested that the old tracks previously used to transport coal to the River Tyne could be reused, creating a shorter North Tyneside loop service which would not run to the coast.
Ahead of a meeting of the North East Joint Transport Committee to formally adopt the plan, Gateshead Council leader Martin Gannon said: ‘Our goals are firmly set on the reopening of the Leamside line and the extension of the underground and we are already taking steps to make these ambitions a reality.
“We also want to boost investment in the East Coast Main Line in the North East and we will continue to advocate for our region for central government funding to increase capacity.
“These developments will allow us to achieve our health and economic goals and help local people access better opportunities – whether for employment, recreation or education. We want to connect new communities to our rail network, foster greener journeys, tackle air pollution head-on while reducing dependence on the private car.
The strategy highlights eight potential extensions. Getting trains back on the abandoned Leamside line is a top priority for North East leaders. It is seen as essential for increasing capacity on the congested East Coast Mainline route, as it would provide an alternative route for slow-moving freight trains. A link between the East Coast Main Line and Newcastle Airport is also included.