WORK has started to explore the ground conditions on a Northumberland railway which is being proposed for reopening after its passenger services were withdrawn in 1964.
The route runs north from Northumberland Park station on the Tyne & Wear Metro to Ashington, with intermediate stations planned at Seaton Delaval, Newsham, Blyth Bebside, Bedlington and Ashington.
One concern is the effect of former mines on the stability of the ground underneath the railway, and work is to be carried out at more than 80 sites along the route, where engineers will drill into the ground to gather soil and rock samples, which are then tested.
The findings will give engineers information such as the strength of the rock, which they will take into account when they design of the different elements of the scheme, including new stations and bridges.
Northumberland County Council member Richard Wearmouth, the cabinet member responsible for regeneration, said: ’It really feels like we’re now making fast progress on this ambitious scheme, and people will see more activity along the route while these investigations take place.
‘With passenger journeys taking people between Ashington and Newcastle in just over half an hour these are exciting times and, when realised, this scheme will bring huge benefits to residents, businesses and visitors.’