What Is Proposed?
SENRUG proposes a new Metro route from the Airport to Blyth Town Centre via an upgraded service line through the Metro depot between Regent Centre and Longbenton, Northumberland Park and Newsham. Connections from Blyth Town Centre to central Newcastle would be available by changing on to either the The Northumberland Line or other Metro routes at Northumberland Park. A service frequency of 2 trains per hour is suggested.
The core Northumberland Line route will not serve central Blyth; the two stations at Newsham and Blyth-Bebside are both on the outskirts of the town, and would require a bus connection to and from Blyth Town Centre. The population of Blyth is 39,800 and it is Northumberland’s largest town. A direct rail route to and from the town centre would significantly assist in the regeneration of the town, opening up job opportunities not just in Newcastle and Cobalt, but also at the Airport.
Additionally, a new Metro route is created between The Coast, Northumberland Park and Four Lane Ends transport interchange to the Airport without the need for a complex cross footbridge interchange at South Gosforth. Connections to Cobalt and Silverlink from Ashington & Blyth would be achieved by changing at Northumberland Park.
Combined with the separate proposals for a North of Morpeth Local Service and a New Metro / heavy rail interchange station at Benton East, the new route would simplify and shorten journeys from Northumberland Park to north Northumberland (locations such as Morpeth, Alnmouth and Berwick) as passengers would not then need to go into Newcastle to connect with local and semi-fast trains on the East Coast Main Line.
The new route would run over Metro tracks from Airport to Northumberland Park, though the service line through the Metro depot between Regent Centre and Longbenton would need to be upgraded. There is capacity on both the Airport to Regent Centre and Longbenton to Northumberland Park sections of the Metro network as these sections currently only take half the number of trains as the core route through Gosforth. From Northumberland Park, the trains would switch to Network Rail tracks and run under battery power to Newsham, though this section of Network Rail route should be upgraded to double track. From Newsham, the former alignment into Blyth Town Centre would be re-opened with a new Blyth Town Centre station created in the footprint of the former station, behind and slightly to the East of the Community Hospital, close to Morrissons. This section could either be electrified to Metro standards or trains could continue under battery power to the new Blyth Town Centre station under battery power and utilize rapid charging facilities that could be provided at this station.
This existing disused rail alignment that would be re-opened includes 3 road crossings:
- Plessey Road (approx 240 meters east of the core Northumberland Line route level crossing). The former level crossing at this point should be re-instated though being a metro route the requirements for doing so are not as onerous as for a crossing on a heavy rail route.
- Princess Louise Road. There was previously a sub-standard height rail bridge at this point. Either the rail alignment could be raised to allow the crossing to be replaced by a standard height bridge, or alternatively a new level crossing could be provided to Metro standards, which are not as onerous as for a level crossing on a heavy rail route.
- A193 Cowpen Road. Either the level crossings could be re-instated, or possibly a cut and cover tunnel could be created at this point in lieu of a level crossing.
From just west of the A193, SENRUG suggests the line reduces to single track with a single platform at Blyth, which would take up a far smaller footprint than the previous station