Passengers in the north east will have more say over their local train services after Transport Minister Baroness Kramer designated the Tyne Valley Line as a community rail service during a visit to Hexham today (2 October 2014).
Designating the line between Newcastle and Carlisle will allow the community to design rail services according to local needs. In turn, this will help to increase passenger numbers, improve connectivity to key destinations and ultimately boost the local economy.
Baroness Kramer said:
Passengers are at the heart of the Tyne Valley Line, so designating it as a community rail line today 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.
Northern Rail will continue to operate services on the Tyne Valley Line with the support of the community rail partnership. The partnership, which is 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.
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.
Councillor Ian Swithenbank, Northumberland County Council’s board member for streetcare and the environment, said:
The Tyne Valley Line provides a much-valued service to the people of the Tyne Valley and Cumbria, and we are pleased to support it. I hope that doors will now open for further funding for the service.
Alex Hynes, Managing Director for Northern Rail, which runs services on the route, said:
We are delighted to hear the Tyne Valley Line has been awarded designated status by the Department for Transport. 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.
The decision to designate the line as a community rail service came after a 6-week consultation that ended in September. Research has shown that for every £1 invested in a community rail partnership, it can bring more than four times that in benefits such as better value for money, increased revenue, more community involvement and improved economic development.