LONG-AWAITED plans to restore passenger train services to Northumberland’s most heavily-populated area remain a better option than extending the Metro into the county, according to a new report.
More than 1,500 people have signed an e-petition calling on Northumberland County Council to work with operator Nexus on bringing Tyne and Wear Metro to towns such as Blyth, Ashington and Bedlington.
Supporters of the petition say a Metro extension would forge closer links between south east Northumberland and the Tyneside/Wearside conurbations, improving access to jobs and training opportunities for local people.
Now a new report to county councillors says discussions with the Tyne and Wear Integrated Transport Authority (ITA) and Nexus indicate there are no plans for a Metro expansion into Northumberland – and it would cost more than £100m to do it.
Instead, County Hall officials say the ITA and Nexus support the council’s preferred option of reopening the Ashington Blyth and Tyne freight line to diesel-powered heavy passenger rail services.
Blyth Valley MP Ronnie Campbell said the council’s response to the petition didn’t surprise him.
He said: “I was told by Nexus some time ago that it will be 2030 at the earliest before they will consider extending the Metro system. I believe they would like to bring it to south east Northumberland, but it would be very costly and they don’t have the money.