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Bid to re-open old county railway line; Trust hopes to restore route closed in 1968.

Byline: Brian Daniel

ALONG-running bid to reinstate a historic Northumberland rail link is building up a head of steam, with the submission of plans.

Initial plans were to bring the railway to the old Alnwick station, currently the town's Barter Books second hand store.

But this is not part of the current application as there is a lack of space around the old station and the cost of building a bridge over the A1 is prohibitive.

The project will also involve trains running once again over the seven-arch 1850 Cawledge viaduct, designed by Robert Stephenson, which would be restored with funding.

The trust has already acquired steam and diesel locomotives which it is currently renovating at bases at Wooler and Longhoughton.

The project will see a new cycle path created, linking Alnwick to the national bike route for the first time, and a path for pedestrians and riders.

The trust is hoping to get a decision on its planning application early in the new year and, subject to no intervention from government, to then start on the ground later in the year.

However, it may be four or five years before the line is fully operational as a commuter route.

Spokesman Roger Jermy said: "It has been a long hard slog to get to this position. What we are hoping now is things will start to actually take place.

"Support is beginning to mount but we look forward to hearing the different comments.

"No doubt there will be some objectors, we will just have to deal with those as they come forward.

"We are certainly aware that Alnwick needs this link for lots of different purposes.

"We are hoping that the council will pass this without any need to refer it to the Department of Environment, that is our fervent hope."

The trust has aspirations of building a lightweight bridge across the A1 to bring trams into Alnwick town and on to the Alnwick Garden, and of running commuter trains directly from Alnwick to Newcastle.

CAPTION(S):

FULL STEAM AHEAD? A train passing Alnmouth; below, steam trains may become a sight in the region once again
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Dec 12, 2009
Words:356
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