People are being urged to have their say in a major consultation on the reintroduction of a rail passenger service in Northumberland.

From Monday 16 November, residents and other interested parties will be able to look at detailed plans for the Northumberland Line – which will connect Ashington to central Newcastle with a number of stops in between.

The consultation will be available by going to nland.uk/line and will close on 14 December. 

While the consultation was originally planned to include drop-in events and roadshows along the route, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic means the consultation will have to be hosted onlineat haveyoursay.northumberland.gov.uk/transport/nl/   Hard copies of the consultation information will be available on request.

The survey will be hosted on a brand-new engagement and consultation tool called Citizen Space. The state-of-the-art tool will replace online questionnaires making it easier to reach more residents, reduce response time and get actionable feedback on what residents need.

With a proposed opening date for passenger services in winter 2023, thousands of residents a day could be transported between Ashington and Newcastle in just over half an hour, while the scheme could boost the local economy by up to £470m. The ambitious scheme includes new stations at Ashington, Bedlington, Blyth Bebside, Newsham, Seaton Delaval and Northumberland Park in North Tyneside, as well as upgrades to the track and changes to level crossings where bridges or underpasses may need to be built.

Cllr. Richard Wearmouth, Northumberland County Council Cabinet Member responsible for economic development, said 'There's ever more confidence our long-term aspirations for this project are going to become reality - bringing social and economic benefits to residents, commuters, visitors and businesses both in Northumberland and the wider region. This consultation is a critical stage of the process. We really want everyone to be part of this journey and would appreciate feedback- either on specific elements or the scheme as a whole.'

Cllr. Matthew Cuthbert, Leader of Ashington Town Council stated 'The re-introduction of a passenger rail service from Ashington to Newcastle has been a long held hope and ambition of the Town Council and many residents in the town for many years. There is a real feeling that we are now very close to seeing it become a reality within the foreseeable future. The public consultation stage is critical and we would actively encourage all residents and organisations with a key and keen interest to get directly involved with the on-line consultation and make their views known in the coming weeks.'

Hard copies of the consultation documents can be requested via email at; rail@northumberland.gov.uk or by calling 0345 600 6400.