Study into feasibility of a local rail service to the north of town
Funding has been secured for a feasibility study into the possibility of running a local rail service between Morpeth and Berwick.
Rail campaign group SENRUG (South East Northumberland Rail User Group) would like to see the existing Newcastle to Morpeth service extended on to Berwick.
The aim is to have an hourly service each way calling at Pegswood, Widdrington, Acklington, Alnmouth and Chathill, plus the eventual re-opening of the former stations at Belford and Beal, and possibly elsewhere.
However, the first step is to establish whether there is enough space on the line for local trains to run and if not, what would need to be done to make the service possible.
The study will also include a high-level market appraisal, plus outline indicative costs for the proposed new stations.
Funding for the study is being provided jointly by Northern Railway and Northumberland County Council, with a small contribution from SENRUG.
Northern’s award came from its Seed Corn Fund and followed a strong application from SENRUG, which was then matched by the local authority.
Dennis Fancett, SENRUG chairman, said: “This campaign is designed to help those living north of Morpeth, as well as overcoming the six-hour gap in the timetable that any Morpeth resident wishing to travel north to Berwick by train currently faces.
“Some of the capacity on the East Coast Main Line should be reserved for local services for local people.
“Whilst this study is just a first step in what could be a very long road towards a service starting, it will provide critical initial information, allowing the authorities to evaluate the next step, and feed-in to the next franchise renewal.”
SYSTRA, an international transport consultancy with more than 50 years of experience in the UK, has been selected to manage the study.