Northumberland Line – Still No Opening Date

It remains our understanding the line will open this summer with Seaton Delaval, Newsham and Ashington stations. Other stations will follow later. We don’t as yet have a specific date though I have pointed out to the County Council that under the railway’s “T-12” rule, if passenger trains are to start running on Monday 2nd September for instance, then tickets should go on sale at midnight of 13th June – less than 2 weeks away. Meanwhile, Northern has issued a press release saying that Northumberland Line train times are now built in to the National Rail database. I have asked them for a copy of the times in table or similar format but they have said this is not yet available. Hobbyist however will find the times in realtimetrains  though this does not make clear the trains will not be stopping at Northumberland Park, Bebside or Bedlington initially or clarify when passenger services will actually start running. It would appear however that once service starts, the first train will depart Ashington at 06:00 on weekdays then at 31 and 00 minutes past each hour. This information should be treated with caution as realtimetrains is not an official source of information. Just to be clear, passenger services will not start from 2nd June, even though the train paths are shown as “reserved” from this date (which is the timetable change date). The reluctance to formally share information with SENRUG is a little disappointing given our 19 year history in campaigning for the line, but this close to the opening we prefer to focus on celebrating our campaign success.


3 thoughts on “Northumberland Line – Still No Opening Date”

  1. Allegedly, if / when trains start running the 6am departure from Ashington involves an empty stock move from Heaton, via Morpeth – if it can be done for an ECS, why not passenger trains?

  2. Can someone from SENRUG please press the local politicians into to finding out what is really going on?
    When I look at this site today (18 June):
    https://www.northernrailway.co.uk/timetable-change
    It tells me at the bottom of the
    Route: Newcastle-Ashington (Northumberland line) 
    Section that the service is starting in Autumn 2024, but the Northumberland line website still has a massive banner at the top saying it’s arriving in Summer.

    South Newsham Road is still an obstacle course of ups and downs. I think the local people deserve to know exactly when their roads will be back to normal and when they will be able to use the service.

    It just feels like the Northumberland Line website is stringing us along in my view. We all know there will be an election in 2 weeks but that should not prevent the supply of factual information about progress and delays in my opinion. If there is a project plan, what is it? what are the risks causing delays and what mitigation is being put in place to reduce the delays and cost overruns?

  3. Responding to Colin, you make a good point here, and I hope the following sheds some light on the matter. Others are welcome to correct me if you think I have misunderstood railway operating procedures.

    Drivers and Conductors do not always start their day in the same place. Drivers start at Heaton Depot, and the train runs empty to Newcastle station where it picks up the Conductor. It can not run “in service” without a Conductor on board. However, for the Northumberland Line there was a strong desire from the County Council to employ people living in the County, so a decision was taken to base the Conductors at Ashington. This means the train must run empty from Heaton to Ashington to collect its Conductor before becoming a service train. Had the Conductors been based at Newcastle, then yes, the first journey north could be a service train, but the time taken to get the train to Newcastle then back past Heaton to Ashington would mean the first train south could not be until later. I think having an earlier southbound train is the best option.

    Responding to Markster, you raise a good point here, the lack of information as to what is really happening re the opening date is quite frustrating, and I have forwarded your comment to the County Council. It could be that strict pre-election purdah rules prevent the Council saying anything either positive or negative until after the election, I have enquired as to whether that is the case as of course it is a national (general) election not a county council one.

    Dennis, Chair of SENRUG

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