We are tantalisingly close to the finishing line of SENRUG’s 16-year old campaign to re-introduce passenger services on the Ashington Blyth & Tyne freight line, ever hopeful that a positive government announcement will be received soon. As we get ever nearer to our goal, it is surprising how many people are coming out of the woodwork to claim credit for the work. An article in Rail (issue 918) quotes Andrew Haines, Chief Executive of Network Rail as saying they have knocked 3 or 4 years off the timescale! As local campaigners (and we admit we are not privy to every bit of detail) our perception is that it is none other than Network Rail that’s been added the time on! Think about it. This is a fully working freight line. Some of the former stations even have the old platforms still in-tact. The scheme has been fully supported, and the top public transport priory, for each of the current Conservative led administration at Northumberland’s County Hall, the Labour administration before that, and the Lib-Dem administration before them. So how long should it take Network Rail to introduce passenger trains onto a fully operational but sparsely used freight line? If the country is really to see a rail resurgence, we need to find a way of making decisions quickly – and implementing them within 2 years.
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