CAMPAIGN to OPEN GILSLAND STATION
NEWSLETTER - September 2014
Getting a station reopened is a complicated process but the final word comes from Network Rail whose job it is to ensure that the infrastructure of the rail network actually works. About a year ago, we contacted Network Rail requesting a discussion. Eight months later they replied to our request by stating that we would need to have Northumberland County Council’s backing for the project before they would discuss it. Essentially they will deal only with official bodies – we are just a bunch of people who want a station.
In September we invited two officials from Northumberland CC, Stuart McNaughton, Strategic Transport Manager and Ian Coe, Transport Support Manager to visit Gilsland to find out the facts. Julie Gibbon, COGS secretary gave a detailed presentation laying out the benefits of the project to the community and its feasibility and this was supplemented by an exhibition highlighting the tourist potential of the area and the work being undertaken by COGS. Representatives for local institution, businesses and interest groups attended to add their support and the NCC officials were taken on a tour of the station grounds to ensure that they had a full understanding of the feasibility and potential of the station. They were impressed, not only by the practicality of the project and the preparatory work that had been done and but also by the level of community involvement and support.
The result was a meeting on 16th October at Northumberland County Hall with Barry Rowland, executive director of local services, Councillor Ian Swithinbank, Policy Board Member with particular responsibility for transport matters, Ian Coe, Stuart McNaughton and . Once again they were presented with all the facts and figures and were clearly not just impressed with the project as a real possibility but seemed actually delighted that a project of such merit had emerged from the community itself. It ticks a lot of their boxes, infrastructure improvement, rural development and best of all it is something they can give to the west of the county to complement the two rail projects in the east, the reinstatement of the Ashington, Blyth and Tyne line and the opening of Belford station.
None of this means that Northumberland CC will foot the bill but it does mean that they will head up the next stage of the process working with Network Rail and their support will open more doors for funding. Another important step along the way.