The Northumberland Line is the former Newbiggin-by-the-Sea branch of the Blyth and Tyne Railway. Passenger services ran between Newbiggin-by-the-Sea and Newcastle via Ashington and Backworth. The line was closed to passengers by British Railways in 1964, although It has continued in use for freight and currently carries five trains daily in each direction.
Map by Alan Young showing Blyth & Tyne line

Map created by Alan Young and used with his permission | Disused Stations website
Northumberland line

© OpenStreetMap contributors | OpenStreetMap copyright notice | View context map
The Northumberland line has been the subject of a reopening campaign since at least the 1990s. The most recent campaign, led by South East Northumberland Rail User Group (SENRUG) and Northumberland County Council, has been successful.

The council is now working with AECOM/SLC Rail and Network Rail to build new stations at Ashington, Bedlington, Blyth Bebside, Newsham, and Seaton Delaval, along with the other infrastructure required to restore passenger services between Ashington and Newcastle Central.

According to a 2019 report produced by SLC Property on behalf of Northumberland County Council, construction will be undertaken in four phases, with phase one taking 18 months and subsequent phases six months each, totalling three years. Phase 1 includes new stations at Ashington, Bedlington, and Newsham stations, and two new platforms at Northumberland Park station on the Tyne and Wear Metro network. Blyth Bebside and Seaton Delaval stations will be built during Phase 2. Source: Six new stations could open if Ashington to Newcastle passenger trains resume, by Ben O’Connell, on ChronicleLive website.

Northumberland County Council projects that services will start in winter 2023, according to a report in the December 2020 issue of Modern Railways. A journey from Ashington to Newcastle will take 35 minutes, with two trains per hour from Monday to Saturday and an hourly service on a Sunday.

Northumberland County Council would like battery-operated rolling stock to be used, and Vivarail has stated its intention to trial a hybrid Class 230 capable of operating under 25kV AC overhead / battery power in early 2021. Freight trains will continue to use the track. Provision will be made at Ashington for a possible future extension to Newbiggin and Woodhorn.

Woodhorn was a railway station proposed as part of the project to reintroduce passenger rail services onto the Ashington, Blyth & Tyne Railway (since rechristened as the Northumberland Line) which closed to passenger traffic in 1964. It was initially proposed that the newly reopened line could terminate at a new station, close to the Woodhorn Colliery Museum and Northumberland Archives, rather than at Ashington, the previous station. However revised plans, released in July 2019 appear to have dropped Woodhorn station from project scope.

Source: Woodhorn railway station – Wikipedia
It is not yet known whether passengers services over the line will be provided by Northern, or if the line will become part of the Tyne and Wear Metro system,. A decision is expected during winter 2020–2021. On the map below, taken from the Transport North East consultation document North East Transport Plan 2021-2035 (pdf; 58pp), planned and proposed National Rail and Metro routes are shown in red.
North East Transport Plan 2021-2035 – Transport North East

New stations

Ashington (Phase 1)

Bedlington (Phase 1)

Blyth Bebside (Phase 2)

Newsham (Phase 1)

Seaton Delaval (Phase 2)

The Northumberland Line is one of the first six programmes (and the only reopening scheme) to be accelerated by Network Rail’s Project Speed initiative. The aim of Project Speed (Swift, Pragmatic and Efficient Enhancement Delivery) is to halve the time and slash the cost of delivery of railway infrastructure schemes. Source: Modern Railways, September 2020, page 9.
Northumberland line public consultation

Visit the public consultation website

Further reading

Beeching Reversed: Reopening of the Northumberland line, on RailEngineer website

Blyth and Tyne Railway – Wikipedia

Changes made to the proposed new Northumberland line rail link, on Northumberland Gazette website (July 2020)

Six new stations could open if Ashington to Newcastle passenger trains resume, by Ben O’Connell, on ChronicleLive website

South East Northumberland Rail User Group