A vision to bring passenger trains back to Ashington and Blyth by 2022 should be a government priority as it will boost opportunities for people living in some of Britain's most deprived communities, a report says.
Northumberland County Council has pledged an extra £3.5m towards a goal of restoring passenger services to 20 miles of track which links Newcastle to Ashington and Blyth . Only freight trains have operated on the Ashington, Blyth and Tyne Line since passenger stations were closed in 1964.
Today, the council has pledged an extra £3.5m to pay for design work, impact assessments and a range of engineering and ecology work, with a feasibility study nearly complete.
Northumberland County Council aims to submit a full business case and design details by the end of the year, and says the plan is to run passenger trains between Newcastle and Ashington by 2022.
Reintroducing passenger services to the current freight line could boost the local economy by up to £70m with more than 800,000 annual return journeys by 2038, the local authority says.
Council leader Peter Jackson said: "We have always supported this ambitious proposal to help secure future jobs and growth across the whole county.
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