Cllr Richard Wearmouth: We're on track to deliver better rail services for Northumberland

Connectivity is vital to enabling economic growth, and that is why improving the rail network across the county is a key ambition of Northumberland Conservatives. A number of schemes are already underway to promote the return of railway services to the county by reintroducing abandoned lines and boosting existing routes through additional services and stopping points.

Towards the end of 2018 we urged Transpennine Rail to consider additional stops at Berwick, Alnmouth, Morpeth and Cramlington as part of their plans to run trains all the way from the North West to Edinburgh.

Additional stops have the potential to be a make accessing our towns easier, and improve journeys for commuters. We eagerly await feedback in the spring from TransPennine.

We are also liaising with other operators who could be interested in bringing their services to the county. One such possibility, which has come about as a result of our privatised railway network, is the potential for new services by First Group. They have been looking at services connecting Stevenage and Scotland, and we are keen to make sure that route includes stops in Northumberland. Any new service is very welcome and as we learn more we will keep you updated.

Thanks to our Local Plan, we are closer than ever to seeing the reintroduction of the Northumberland to Newcastle rail line. This week the Local Plan passed full council, meaning it is one step closer to being adopted. As well as setting the housing targets for the next two decades, and creating ambitious economic targets, our plan protects key mineral lines including the route from Ashington to The East Coast Main Line. The plan also identifies potential future stations such as Belford from, protecting them from development that would compromise their reintroduction.

We look forward to providing an update with the latest news on the Northumberland line from Newcastle to Ashington soon.