Another frustrating (online) meeting today with Council staff and their consultants. SENRUG remains highly disappointed that they are not taking on board any of SENRUG’s legitimate responses to the latest Northumberland Line (Ashington Blyth & Tyne Line Re-opening) consultation. This leaves us in a difficult position. We very much support the re-opening itself, having campaigned for it for 15 years, and don’t want to take any action that will delay the re-opening date. But we nevertheless believe that 3 key and avoidable mistakes are being made at the design stage which will be costly if not impossible to rectify later. These are:
a) Stations designed for car users, not pedestrians or bus users. Ashington, Bebside and Seaton Delaval in particular have the station entrances set back a long way from the main roads and too far from the bus stops. There also seems to be an over-provision of car parking facilities at several stations.
b) Failure to design the northbound running line at Bedlington to have reversible signalling so that eventually trains from Newcastle via Morpeth could reverse in the platform and then return to Morpeth (or go forward to Cambois) , without needing to cross the level crossing and go into the siding, and then cross the level crossing again.
c) Failure to “design in” the need for future double tracking of the entire section between Newsham and Northumberland Park which will be needed if further extensions and enhancements to the Northumberland Line are added later, as per SENRUG’s ongoing campaign aspirations, such as a route from Blyth Town Centre then switching over to Metro tracks at Northumberland Park to go on to the Airport
We’re also disappointed that the Council seem to want to set up a new group of “Northumberland Line Champions” rather than work through SENRUG and are rejecting SENRUG’s plan for a single Community Rail Partnership covering both Newcastle – Ashington and Newcastle – Morpeth – Berwick, in which a number of SENRUG volunteers are keen to play an active role. There are a number of obvious reasons why a single CRP for both routes would be best. Which CRP would cover Manors station, the route from Morpeth to Bedlington, or leisure travel by promoting walking or cycling routes for instance along the River Wansbeck walk from Morpeth to Ashington or Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, from Morpeth to Bedlington, or from Cramlington to Seaton Delaval?