Weardale Railway.
Weardale Railway.
Matthew Neville

North East set for new passenger rail service with £50,000 funding

Plans to develop a passenger rail service from Weardale to Darlington develop due to £50,000 funding from the Department for Transport’s Restoring Your Railway fund.

Durham County Council and The Auckland Project intend to use the money to assist partners in developing an early-stage proposal for plans to join the Bishop Auckland and Weardale railway lines.

If developed, it is estimated that 500,000 trips could be made on the line annually. Proposals could also include the offer of an hourly service between Darlington and Weardale, as well as a second shuttle service between Darlington and Bishop Auckland, to allow two services per hour from 2022.

The announcement of the money follows the success of the council’s application for £20m from the government’s Levelling Up Fund.

This funding has matched investment by the council and The Science Museum Group which is enabling £31m to be spent delivering the A68 Toft Hill bypass, reopening Whorlton Bridge and creating a heritage corridor along the Stockton and Darlington Railway line.

Cllr Elizabeth Scott, Durham County Council’s cabinet member for economy and partnerships, said: “This funding boost is a positive step in our exciting plans to develop the passenger rail line and along with the £31 million investment we will be making in projects like the Toft Hill bypass and the reopening of Whorlton Bridge.”

“The Weardale Railway line is such a valuable part of the county’s heritage and it is important that we are able to preserve this for future generations.

“A passenger railway service between Weardale and Darlington would not only support this, but would also allow even more people to experience and enjoy our rich heritage, which is a key aspect of our UK City of Culture 2025 bid.”

David Maddan, chief executive of The Auckland Project, said: “We are delighted to receive approval from the Department of Transport to develop our plans to transform the line.

“Our vision is to offer both heritage and passenger services on the whole line, providing improved access for communities and greater opportunities. This will help to boost the county’s offer to residents and visitors, and we look forward to working with Durham County Council and other partners to develop our ideas further.”

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