May 2020

Northumberland County Council award the contract for Outline Design of the scheme to SLC Rail and AECOM working together. This work equates to the Design phase of RNEP (Rail Network Enhancement Pipeline) and is broadly equivalent to the GRIP 4 (Single Option Development) stage of Network Rail’s GRIP (Governance for Rail Investment Projects) Process. As the Transforming Cities Funding Bid was unsuccessful, NCC are now re-evaluating whether the initial re-opening plan can be delivered as a single phase instead of the two-phase approach required by Transforming Cities, and are developing funding applications for the DfT Beeching Reversal Fund and RNEP Funding. Government Ministers continue to express commitment to the scheme, including an article by Baroness Vere (Under Secretary of State at the DfT) in The Journal (5th May 2021), and the Council continue to indicate an overall delivery schedule of late 2023 is possible for Phase 1, or slightly after that if indeed it does prove possible to deliver the scheme as a single phase.