Tyne Valley line

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Tyne Valley Line
Hexham Signal Box, Tyne Valley Railway.jpg
Hexham station and signal box
OwnerNetwork Rail
Connecting lines
Former connections
TypeHeavy rail
SystemNational Rail
Operator(s)Northern Trains
Rolling stock
Line length58 miles (93 km)[1]
Number of tracks2
Track gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Loading gaugeW7[2]
Operating speed60–65 mph (97–105 km/h)
Route map
Tyne Valley line.png
(Click to expand)

The Tyne Valley Line is a 58-mile (93 km) route, linking Newcastle upon Tyne with Hexham and Carlisle, England. The line follows the course of the River Tyne through Tyne and Wear and Northumberland. Five stations and two viaducts on the route are listed structures.

The Newcastle and Carlisle Railway was formed in 1829, and was opened in stages between 1834 and 1838.


As of the December 2019 change, Northern Trains run three trains per hour along the Tyne Valley Line between Newcastle and Hexham, with two trains per hour continuing to Carlisle.[3][4]

Predominantly, rolling stock on the Tyne Valley Line consists of Class 156 and Class 158 diesel multiple units, both of which were introduced in to service in the late 1980s.

Class 142 Pacer trains also served the line, until the turn of the new decade, when they were withdrawn from passenger service.[5]

The Class 156 and 158 units operating on the Tyne Valley Line are currently in the process of being refurbished, with upgrades including free WiFi, power sockets, on-board passenger information displays, and an interior refresh.[6][7]

The Tyne Valley Line is also used for freight, and is an important diversionary route at times when the East Coast Main Line is closed. The line, however, is not electrified.


Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Carlisle Railway Act 1829
Act of Parliament
Long titleAn Act for making and maintaining a Railway or Tramroad from the Town of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the County of the Town of Newcastle-upon-Tyne to the City of Carlisle in the County of Cumberland, with a Branch thereout.
Citation10 Geo 4 c lxxii
Royal assent22 May 1829
Status: Amended

The railway was built by the Newcastle & Carlisle Railway, with the requisite Act of Parliament gaining royal assent on 22 May 1829.

The line was built in sections from 1834 onwards. The first section of the line (running between Hexham and Blaydon) opened in March 1835. Services were soon temporarily suspended, until May 1835, after a local landowner objected to the use of locomotives (this being specifically prohibited by the Act of Parliament).[8]

The entire route between Carlisle London Road and Redheugh in Gateshead was formally opened to passengers on 18 June 1838. A temporary bridge over the River Tyne was built at Scotswood, in order to allow trains to reach a terminus at Forth Banks in Newcastle, with this section of the line opening on 21 October 1839. The line was later extended to Newcastle Central, with the first service operating on 1 January 1851.

The Newcastle & Carlisle Railway was absorbed into the North Eastern Railway on 17 July 1862. From 1864, trains ran to Carlisle Citadel station, with Carlisle London Road 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,[9] which had become uneconomic to maintain. Trains on the Tyne Valley Line from Newcastle were diverted to use the present route, crossing the King Edward VII Bridge to the south-west of the station, before running through Dunston and 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.[10]

The line near Carlisle was badly damaged in October 2022 when a freight train derailed.[11]


After leaving Newcastle, the line originally ran along the north bank of the River Tyne for around 4 miles (6.4 km), serving the Sir W. G. Armstrong & Co. works at Elswick, before crossing the River 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 using the King Edward VII Bridge, before then diverging from the southbound East Coast Main Line, and running west through Gateshead, with stations at Dunston, MetroCentre and Blaydon.

At Wylam, the line enters Northumberland. The station house at Wylam was built in 1835, and is now a Grade II* listed building. The line continues along the south bank of the River Tyne, with further intermediate stops in Northumberland located at Prudhoe, Stocksfield, Riding Mill, Corbridge, Hexham, Haydon Bridge, Bardon Mill and Haltwhistle.

A diversion at Corbridge, opened on 27 May 1962, allowed straightening of the line to remove a 45 mph (70 km/h) speed limit and the closure of the 510-foot (160 m) long Farnley Scar Tunnel, which was in need of further reinforcement.[12]

In Cumbria, the line serves Brampton (Cumbria) and Wetheral stations, before joining with the Settle and Carlisle Line just before Carlisle.

Scotswood, Newburn and Wylam Railway[edit]

The Scotswood, Newburn and Wylam Railway (or 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 Newcastle & Carlisle Railway at Scotswood, before running along the north bank of the River Tyne, with stations at Newburn, Lemington, Heddon-on-the-Wall and North Wylam. The line then crossed the River Tyne using the Wylam Railway Bridge, rejoining the Newcastle & Carlisle Railway 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.[13]

On 16 June 1871, Parliament gave permission for the line to be built. Construction of the new line began in April 1872, with the line between Scotswood and Newburn opening on 12 July 1875. It was operated by North Eastern Railway on behalf of the Scotswood, Newburn and Wylam Railway.

On 13 May 1876, the line between Newburn and North Wylam opened, with the final section of the branch between North Wylam and the West Wylam Junction opening in October 1876.

On 15 September 1958, the stations at Newburn, Lemington and Heddon-on-the-Wall closed to passengers, with the latter also closing to goods on that day.

On 4 January 1960, Lemington closed to goods traffic, with Newburn closing to goods traffic on 24 April 1965. Scotswood followed, closing to goods 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, with Scotswood closing to passengers on 1 May 1967. The last station on the line to remain open, North Wylam, closed along with the rest of the line on 11 March 1968.[14]

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, in order to take rail traffic to and from Stella North Power Station, as well as the BEREC factory in Newburn. The track was later removed, following the closure of the factory in 1992.[15]

Branch lines[edit]

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


  1. ^ "Delivering a better railway for a better Britain: Route Specifications 2019 London North Eastern and East Midlands" (PDF). Network Rail. April 2019. Retrieved 2 March 2020.
  2. ^ "Route Specifications: London North Eastern and East Midlands" (PDF). Network Rail. April 2017. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  3. ^ "Timetables | Northern". www.northernrailway.co.uk. Retrieved 3 March 2020.
  4. ^ "North East customers get extra Newcastle - Carlisle services". Northern News. Retrieved 3 March 2020.
  5. ^ "Northern retires first Pacer train". Northern Trains. 12 August 2019. Retrieved 3 March 2020.
  6. ^ "Northern launches North East's first fully refurbished train". Northern Trains. 6 March 2019. Retrieved 3 March 2020.
  7. ^ "Northern's refurbished trains – creating jobs and boosting the economy". Northern Trains. 4 February 2020. Retrieved 3 March 2020.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ Body, G. (1988). Railways of the Eastern Region Volume 2. Wellingborough: Patrick Stephens Ltd. p. 133. ISBN 1-85260-072-1.
  10. ^ "Bridges on the Tyne - Derwenthaugh". bridgesonthetyne.co.uk. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  11. ^ "Travel disruption as repairs from Carlisle freight train derailing 'could take weeks'". ITV News. 21 October 2022. Retrieved 22 October 2022.
  12. ^ "Cutting replaces tunnel at Corbridge". Railway Magazine. July 1962. p. 465.
  13. ^ "Wylam Waggonway". Hadrians Cycleway. Retrieved 3 July 2008.
  14. ^ "North Wylam Branch". Northumbrian Railways. Retrieved 25 June 2008.
  15. ^ "Glass and Gut". Timmonet. Retrieved 3 July 2008.

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]