NEA makes case for rail link

The North-East Assembly is promoting plans for high-speed rail transport despite the Department for Transport saying that a new high-speed rail would likely prove too costly.

Transport experts from the North East Assembly (NEA) attended a ministerial meeting to make the case for a North East rail scheme. They presented the findings of a feasibility study into extending the existing Newcastle to Morpeth service to Tom Harris, Under Secretary of State for Transport.

The study concluded that the proposal to introduce passenger rail services into South East Northumberland for the first time in 40 years, is feasible provided that funding can be secured. If given the go-ahead, trains could be running on the line in 2009. The group’s aim was to establish the level of government support for the project and also to explore potential sources of funding.

David Marshall, transport manager at the NEA, proposed that the project could be funded from regeneration budgets rather than those strictly earmarked for transport projects.

The main findings of the study, carried out on behalf of the NEA by the Independent Rail Consultancy Group, included the fact that that the existing track and signalling are adequate, as long as routine maintenance and checks are carried out. The proposed link would extend an existing service, so would not require any additional trains.