Tyne Valley line

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Tyne Valley line
156450 at Hexham.JPG
ScotRail Class 156 unit at Hexham in August 2004
Type Heavy rail
System National Rail
Status Operational
Locale Northumberland
Tyne and Wear
North East England
North West England
Termini Carlisle
Stations 16
Opened From 1835
Owner Network Rail
Operator(s) Northern
Abellio ScotRail
Rolling stock Class 142 "Pacers"
Class 156 "Super Sprinters"
Class 158 "Express Sprinter"
Number of tracks Two
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge

The Tyne Valley line, built by the Newcastle & Carlisle Railway, is a railway line in northern England. The 60-mile (97 km) line was built in the 1830s, and links the city of Newcastle upon Tyne in Tyne and Wear with Carlisle in Cumbria. Formal opening took place on 18 June 1838. The line follows the course of the River Tyne through Northumberland. Five stations and two viaducts on the route are listed structures. The line is referred to by the train operators as "The Hadrian's Wall Country Line."


Passenger services on the Tyne Valley line are operated by Northern and Abellio ScotRail. The line is also heavily used for freight, and is an important diversionary route during East Coast Main Line closures. The line is not an electrified route. Passenger services are operated by diesel multiple units, typically Class 142 "Pacers", Class 156 "Super Sprinters" which were introduced in the late 1980s and on rare occasions Class 158s are used on this line, which were introduced in the early 1990s, before being transferred to other depots. Before this, Metro-Cammell Class 101 units were used.


The railway was built by the Newcastle and Carlisle Railway Company, the requisite Act of Parliament gaining Royal Assent on 22 May 1829. The line was built in sections from 1834 onwards. The first section (Hexham - Blaydon) opened in March 1835 but services were then suspended until May after a local landowner objected to the use of locomotives (specifically prohibited by the Act of Parliament).[1] The entire route between Carlisle London Road railway station and Redheugh in Gateshead was formally opened to passengers on 18 June 1838. A temporary Tyne bridge was built at Scotswood to allow trains to reach a terminus at Forth Banks in Newcastle - this opened on 21 October 1839. N&CR trains first used Newcastle Central railway station on 1 January 1851.

The N&CR was absorbed into the North Eastern Railway on 17 July 1862. From 1864, trains ran to Carlisle Citadel station, and the old London Road station was closed. In 1870, the temporary bridge at Scotswood was removed, and a new iron Scotswood Bridge was built to replace it.

In 1982, British Rail closed the Scotswood Bridge,[2] which had become uneconomic to maintain. Tyne Valley trains from Newcastle were diverted to use the present route, crossing the King Edward VII Bridge south-west of Newcastle Central Station, and running via Dunston to Blaydon, on an upgraded section of the original route along the south bank of the Tyne that had previously been freight-only since the 1850s.[3]

Tyne Valley Line
East Coast Main Line north UpperLeft arrow
UpperRight arrow
Durham Coast Line
via High Level Bridge
Newcastle Central Tyne and Wear Metro
Forth Banks Junction
King Edward VII Bridge
across the River Tyne
Right arrow Durham Coast Line
Scotswood Works Halt
Right arrow East Coast Main Line south
Scotswood Junction
Dunston Power Station
Scotswood Railway Bridge
across the River Tyne
Stella N. Power Station
Right arrow
Derwent Valley Railway
to Consett
Heddon on the Wall
Stella S. Power Station
North Wylam
Wylam Railway Bridge
across the River Tyne
West Wylam Junction
Riding Mill
Farnley Scar Tunnel
1962 diversion
Border Counties Railway Left arrow
Right arrow Allendale branch
Warden Railway Bridge
across the River South Tyne
Haydon Bridge
Bardon Mill
Right arrow Alston line
Low Row
Right arrow Naworth colleries branch
Brampton Town
Brampton Fell
How Mill
Heads Nook
Corby Bridge
across the River Eden
UpperRight arrow Settle–Carlisle line
Petteril Bridge Junction
UpperRight arrow
Lancaster and Carlisle Railway
(West Coast Main Line south)
Carlisle London Road
UpperRight arrow Maryport and Carlisle Railway
London Road Junction
Upperby Junction │ Currock Junction
Bog Junction (under bridge)
Citadel South Junctions
Forks Junction
Carlisle Citadel
Rome Street Junction
Caldew Junctions
Port Carlisle Branch Junction
Port Carlisle Junction
LowerRight arrow
Carlisle and Port Carlisle
Railway and Dock Company
Border Union Railway LowerLeft arrow
Down arrow
Caledonian main line
(West Coast Main Line north


After leaving Newcastle Central the line originally ran along the north bank of the Tyne for around 4 miles (6.4 km), serving the Sir W G Armstrong & Co works at Elswick, before crossing the Tyne at Scotswood and rejoining its current route along the south bank from Blaydon. Since 1982, after leaving Newcastle, the line crosses the River Tyne on the King Edward VII Bridge and then diverges from the southbound East Coast Main Line passing west through Gateshead, with stations at Dunston, the MetroCentre and Blaydon.

Past Ryton, the line enters Northumberland and passes Wylam station. The station house at Wylam was built in 1835, and is Grade II* listed. The line continues along the south bank of the Tyne, with other stops in Northumberland being Prudhoe, Stocksfield, Riding Mill, Corbridge, Hexham, Haydon Bridge, Bardon Mill and Haltwhistle.

A deviation at Corbridge, opened on 27 May 1962, allowed straightening of the line to remove a 45 mph (72 km/h) speed limit and closure of the 510 ft (160 m) long tunnel, which was in need of further reinforcement.[4]

In Cumbria, the Tyne Valley line serves the Brampton and Wetheral stations. The line then joins up with the Settle-Carlisle Railway just before reaching Carlisle Citadel station.

Scotswood, Newburn & Wylam Railway[edit]

The Scotswood, Newburn and Wylam Railway (SN&WR) or The North Wylam Loop was a 6.5-mile (10.5 km) long double track branch line constructed for colliery and passenger traffic. The line diverged from the original N&CR at Scotswood, ran along the north bank of the Tyne, with stations at Newburn, Lemington, Heddon-on-the-Wall and North Wylam, before crossing the River Tyne via the Wylam Railway Bridge and joining the N&CR again at the West Wylam Junction. The line followed the course of a waggonway between North Wylam and Lemington Staithes which had been in operation since 1748 and was used for taking coal from the collieries in Wylam and Walbottle to a part of the river which could be accessed by Keel boats.[5]

On 16 June 1871 Parliament gave permission for the line to be built. Construction of the new line began in April 1872. On 12 July 1875 the line between Scotswood and Newburn was opened. It was operated by North Eastern Railway on behalf of SN&WR. On 13 May 1876 the line between Newburn and North Wylam opened. In October 1876 the final section of the branch between North Wylam and the West Wylam Junction opened.

On 15 September 1958 the stations at Newburn, Lemington and Heddon-on-the-Wall closed to passengers. Heddon-on-the-Wall also closed to goods on that day. On 4 January 1960 Lemington Station closed to goods trains. Newburn Station also closed to goods traffic on 24 April 1965. Scotswood closed to goods trains two days later. Between 1965 and 1966 this line carried all rail traffic between Newcastle and Carlisle while a section of the main line between Scotswood and Blaydon was closed. Elswick closed to passengers on 2 January 1967 and Scotswood closed to passengers on 1 May 1967. The last station open Wylam North closed with the line on 11 March 1968.[6] The track between Newburn and Wylam Railway Bridge was removed in 1975 and the course was landscaped and made into a public bridleway. The track between Scotswood and Newburn remained to take rail traffic to and from Stella North Power Station and the Ever Ready factory in Newburn but the track was removed shortly after the Ever Ready factory closed in 1992.[7]

Branch lines[edit]

Originally the railway had four passenger branch lines leading off it:

  • The Border Counties Railway branched off just west of Hexham and passed through Kielder and the North Tyne Valley, before joining up with the Scottish rail network at Riccarton Junction. It was also linked to the Wansbeck Valley Railway, which ran from Reedsmouth to Morpeth and connected to the branch line from Rothbury. The Border Counties line closed to passengers in 1956, and to all traffic in 1958 (five years before the Beeching Axe), although a small section of track between Reedsmouth and Bellingham was retained, accessed from the Wansbeck line, until the latter shut in the mid sixties. Some of the trackbed is now lost beneath Kielder Reservoir, although the disused Kielder Viaduct remains a prominent local landmark.
  • The Allendale branch ran south-west from Hexham Junction and was primarily used to carry minerals from mines and quarries around Allendale and the village of Langley. It was never popular, with passenger services ending in 1930 and closing completely in 1953.
  • The Alston branch covered 17 miles (27 km) from the town of Haltwhistle. This branch provided a passenger service and also, in the early days, served the hundreds of lead mines in the upper South Tyne Valley. It included the monumental Lambley Viaduct and was the last of the branch lines to close in 1976. Part of the Alston end has been turned into a narrow gauge heritage railway, the South Tynedale Railway.
  • There was a short branch (closed to passengers in 1923) from Brampton station into the town of Brampton. The junction of this railway (Brampton Junction) also linked to Lord Carlisle's Railway, a primarily industrial branch line pre-dating the Newcastle and Carlisle Railway itself, which also linked into the Alston branch at Lambley.


  1. ^ Hoole, Ken (1965). The North East - A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain - Volume IV. Newton Abbot: David & Charles. p. 237. ISBN 0-7153-7746-9. 
  2. ^ Body, G: Railways of the Eastern Region Volume 2, 1988, Patrick Stephens Ltd, Wellingborough, ISBN 1-85260-072-1, p.133
  3. ^ Bridges on the Tyne - Derwenthaugh www.bridgesonthe tyne.co.uk; Retrieved 2013-10-03
  4. ^ Railway Magazine July 1962 p. 465 Cutting replaces tunnel at Corbridge
  5. ^ "Wylam Waggonway". Hadrians Cycleway. Retrieved 2008-07-03. 
  6. ^ "North Wylam Branch". Northumbrian Railways. Retrieved 2008-06-25. 
  7. ^ "Glass and Gut". Timmonet. Retrieved 2008-07-03. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Butt, R. V. J. (1995). The Directory of Railway Stations. Sparkford: Patrick Stephens Ltd. ISBN 1-85260-508-1. 
  • Grainger, Richard (1836). A Proposal for Concentrating the Termini of the Newcastle & Carlisle, Great North of England & proposed Edinburgh Railways. Hodgson. A short pamphlet plus fold-out map. The original from which reference has been made is in the North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers. It is reference Tracts vol 57 p200ff This contains a great deal about the early period of N&CR activity in Newcastle/Gateshead.
  • Whittle, G. (1979). The Newcastle & Carlisle Railway. Newton Abbot: David & Charles. ISBN 0-7153-7855-4. 
  • Young, Alan (2003). Railways in Northumberland. Pudsey: Martin Bairstow. ISBN 1-871944-26-0. 

External links[edit]