The Transport Secretary has confirmed the government is committed to reinvigorating north-east rail connections.
Grant Shapps visited Horden Peterlee, a project worth in excess of £10 million that will be completed in May 2020; currently, the area has no station for a 20-kilometre stretch, but once work is complete, Horden Peterlee will be served by one train per hour, which will call at all stations between Newcastle and Middlesbrough.
This has been supported by the Department for Transport’s New Stations Fund, and will ultimately improve services in the region.
As part of the commitment to revitalised north-east rail connections, the Transport Secretary also visited Blyth to witness the potential for restoring services along the Ashington to Blyth line; if this happens, it will reverse damage caused by the Beeching cuts.
A £500 million fund is set to be established by the government to explore how former routes that would benefit those communities who have lost transport connections can be reopened.
Mr Shapps said “levelling up” the country’s infrastructure is a priority for the government.
He said: “2020 will be a year of action on the railways with the north sitting at the heart of the improvements.
“Investing in new stations like Horden Peterlee will deliver more modern, reliable services for passengers. We are also ambitious to restore connections to communities who have lost out, and the Northumberland line has huge potential to deliver that.
“Our focus is levelling up infrastructure across the country, ensuring passengers see the benefit of new trains, new stations and fairer fares.”
The new government reiterated its commitment to infrastructure in the Queen’s Speech just prior to Christmas and revitalising north-east rail connections certainly falls under this bracket.
Those in the various regions of the north will hope this commitment becomes a growing trend; a pledge has previously been made to deliver a faster rail route from Manchester to Leeds.
It is up to the government to make good on such pledges.