Ground investigations starting on the Northumberland Line
Work is underway to explore ground conditions on the route of the proposed Northumberland Line.
The reintroduction of a rail passenger service between Ashington and central Newcastle could be in place in 2023 and preparatory work is ongoing both in terms of detailed design and on the ground.
The ground investigation work, which will continue to the New Year, is being delivered by infrastructure consultancy AECOM, supported by delivery partner SEGL, a specialist ground engineering contractor.
It involves drilling into the ground to gather soil and rock samples which are then tested to determine the properties of the ground conditions below the scheme. The deeper holes will find out whether there have been any mine workings beneath the scheme.
The findings will give engineers information such as the strength of the rock, which they will factor into the design of the different elements of the railway upgrade, including new stations and bridges.
The investigation will include more than 80 exploratory hole locations, from Northumberland Park in the south to Ashington in the north, at proposed station locations, bridges and embankments. More than 2km of drilling and coring is planned, with some boreholes extending 80m below ground level.
In preparation, the team has undertaken extensive environmental surveys to ensure the work doesn’t disturb the surrounding natural environment.
Councillor Richard Wearmouth, the Cabinet Member responsible for regeneration, said: “It really feels like we’re now making fast progress on this ambitious scheme, and people will see more activity along the route while these investigations take place.
“While this work won’t impact on anyone’s properties we do thank people for their patience while this crucial stage of the scheme takes place.
“With passenger journeys taking people between Ashington and Newcastle in just over half an hour these are exciting times and, when realised, this scheme will bring huge benefits to residents, businesses and visitors.”
Council Leader Glen Sanderson added: “I’m delighted we’ve reached the next stage of works on this hugely important project which is set to boost the local economy by up to £470m over the coming years.”
James Todd, AECOM’s Project Director for the ground investigation, said: “The start of the ground investigations is a significant milestone for the project, representing start of the major site activity as we gear up for construction. It is a huge step forward in realising the wide-ranging benefits that the new rail line will bring to the surrounding communities.”
Later this year an online public consultation will take place on various elements of the project.
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