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DfT designates Tyne Valley Line a community rail service

The Tyne Valley Line has been designated a community rail service by the Department for Transport (DfT). 

Designating the line between Newcastle and Carlisle, which is operated by Northern Rail, will allow the community to design rail services according to local needs. 

Northern Rail will continue to operate services on the Tyne Valley Line with the support of the community rail partnership. 

The project, which is being funded by Northumberland County Council and the train operating companies, will work with community groups and other volunteers to decide how services should be run. It will also be able to apply for additional funding for future projects. 

During a visit to Hexham, transport minister Baroness Kramer said: “Passengers are at the heart of the Tyne Valley Line, so designating it as a community rail line could not be more appropriate. This designation will secure the services that local people need as well as supporting social and economic development. 

“It is vital to our long-term economic plan to build a world-class railway. We are delivering better services, more seats and improved journeys for passengers across the UK.” 

The decision to designate the line as a community rail service came after a six-week consultation that ended in September. Dr Gareth Evans, of the Tyne Valley Community Rail Partnership, said: “I am very pleased to have been involved in the process for securing official designation of the Tyne Valley Line services. This is a fantastic railway line with some wonderful scenery, serving a diverse range of markets, including commuters and rural communities alike. 

“Official designation will give our line the formal recognition I sincerely believe it deserves, and provides the partnership with new opportunities to help us attract more people on to the services.” 

In 2013, the Tyne Valley line celebrated its 175th anniversary making it the oldest cross country passenger line in the UK. The line forms a major rail link to the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Northumberland National Park and the Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site. 

Short- to mid-term aspirations of the designation include improving station environments and accessibility along the line; increased community involvement - encouraging further community involvement with the local railway through station partnerships and attracting local funding; and achieving a significant increase of, and improvement in, rolling stock allocation. 

Alex Hynes, managing director at Northern Rail, said: “We are delighted to hear the Tyne Valley Line has been awarded designated status by the DfT. As a community railway, we will continue to support and work with the local community, not only to promote the route but also to engage with customers old and new.” 

Long-term aspirations of the designation include increasing capacity west of Hexham, leading to increased service frequencies and re-opening that station at Gilsland, which would improve connectivity and open up new opportunities for some of the most rural and isolated  communities in England. 

(Image: c. Alex Drennan) 

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