Rail halt dream could lead to station

Tony Mann next to the railway line at Easington Colliery

Tony Mann next to the railway line at Easington Colliery

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COUNCIL chiefs have revealed plans to upgrade a proposed rail halt in east Durham to a full station

Durham County Council have been working on a £500,000 feasibility study to have a rail stop in the former Easington District.

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But due to disabled access problems connected to a simple halt, civic chiefs are now investigating the possibility of building a railway station instead.

A preferred spot has been identified near Horden’s Sea View Industrial Estate.

But there had been calls from various people in Blackhall and Easington Colliery, who wanted the rail halt to be built in their villages.

One of them is Tony Mann, managing director of Westnew Management, who wants to see a rail halt in Easington Colliery re-opened to give the former coal mining village an economic and employability boost by allowing people to travel around the region to look for jobs.

Mr Mann, 56, whose Wallsend-based company owns the former Easington Colliery Infant and Junior School and 100 houses in the A and B streets in the village, said: “We have to act now as unemployment in County Durham, especially Easington Colliery, is spiralling out of control.”

He said over the past few years he has written to the Department of Transport, the Housing Minister, the Prime Minister’s office and the county council with a hope of reinstating the dormant rail link, which has been out of operation since the 1950s, but to no avail.

He said the identified Horden site is still two miles away from Easington Colliery and jobseekers would need to start their journey with a bus ride.

Andy Leadbeater, Durham County Council’s passenger transport manager, said: “We have been investigating the possibility of a creating a rail stop in east Durham for some time.

“However, our investigations have shown that a rail halt would not be a workable solution due to disability access issues.

“We are, therefore looking into the feasibility of a establishing a station, which would be at a substantially higher cost.

“We have looked at a range of factors including potential passenger numbers, land ownership, vehicle and pedestrian access and links to public transport.

“Network Rail and Northern Rail are both fully supportive of this proposal and we are now in the process of discussing the plans with the Department for Transport.

“Further research into potential demand is also about to take place.”

Mr Leadbeater said it would not be possible to have more than one stop in this section as increased journey times would weaken the overall business case for the project.

Anyone wishing to support Mr Mann’s campaign can email n.jackson@oceanaholdings.com or call (0191) 2636777.