As the new station at Horden in County Durham opens, the Department for Transport has pledged a further investment of just over £11 million into two other stations in the North East.
Of this, £8.7 million will go towards developing proposals for a package of enhancements to modernise Darlington station. These include two new platforms for local services, one new platform for southbound long-distance services and a raft of improvements to make the station more accessible.
In addition, £2.45 million has also been agreed to develop proposals which would see Platform 2 at Middlesbrough station extended, to accommodate longer trains, and a new platform built, increasing capacity for local services.
This is on top of the £4.4 million that the DfT contributed from its New Stations Fund towards the total £10.55 million cost of the new station at Horden, which was designed and built by Story Contracting and opened on Monday 29 June 2020 at the end of a project led by Durham County Council, the North East Combined Authority and Network Rail.
Horden station restores a vital link for up to 70,000 passengers after the previous station was closed, along with two other, in 1964 as part of the Beeching cuts, leaving a 20km ‘gap’ in stations on the Durham Coast line between Hartlepool and Seaham. The new station, which has been positioned slightly further north from the site of the original station so as to be closer to Peterlee, will be served by one train per hour calling at all stations between Newcastle and Middlesbrough.
Transport Secretary and Northern Powerhouse Minister Grant Shapps said: “Our ambitious plans to restore and revitalise the railways of the North East sits at the heart of our commitment to level up infrastructure across the country, build a railway that works for everyone, and kickstart our economy as we begin the recovery from COVID-19.
“I’ve seen first-hand how the new Horden station will improve connectivity for thousands of people, easing congestion in Durham and enabling quick, convenient travel between Newcastle and Middlesbrough.
“By backing proposals to improve both Darlington and Middlesbrough stations, we will work to invigorate rail connections and deliver more modern, reliable services for passengers and businesses now and in the future.”
Cllr Simon Henig, Leader of Durham County Council, said: “It has been a long-held ambition to have a station at Horden so, after a number of years of hard work and commitment by ourselves and our partners, it’s fantastic that we are now ready to welcome the first train and the first passengers.
“This new facility will open up significant opportunities for communities across east Durham, by providing a direct transport link to Teesside, Wearside and Tyneside. And, of course, it will also make it easier for people from outside the area to travel to the east of the county, whether for business or pleasure.
“It is going to provide a major economic boost to the county and I’m sure residents and businesses will be keen to take advantage.”
The DfT’s New Stations Fund, which was launched in 2013 to help give local communities improved access to rail services in England and Wales, has so far helped to fund 10 new stations. The third round of the New Stations Fund, which will invest £20 million in new stations and help restore closed stations to their former glory, has now closed with a decision on successful applicants due in the Autumn.