The North East is a fantastic place to explore by train.
In addition to the beautiful countryside, it is also the birthplace of the inventor of the railway locomotive.
From high speed lines through the Northumberland countryside to classic steam locomotives traveling along restored heritage lines, there are some truly breathtaking rail journeys in our region.
Here are five of the best.
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East Coast Main Line
The main east coast line runs from London to Edinburgh, but the section between Newcastle and Berwick upon Tweed is arguably the most scenic part of this trip.
Trains on this route are high speed, so a lot of the sights will only be fleeting, but it makes the capture much more enjoyable.
Heading north from Newcastle Central Station, sit right on the train to admire the coastal village of Alnmouth and its distinctive church spire. Later, you’ll have stunning views of the seaside castles at Holy Island and Bamburgh before arriving in Berwick via the Royal Border Bridge.
South of Newcastle, entering Durham and admiring the cathedral is also quite spectacular.
The Tyne Valley Line
Connecting Newcastle city center to Carlisle, the Tyne Valley Line was the first coast-to-coast passenger rail line and was inaugurated in 1838.
Departing from Newcastle, you will pass the Metrocentre and Blaydon before entering the Northumberland countryside. One of the first stops is the riverside village of Wylam – the birthplace of George Stephenson, also known as the ‘Father of Railways’.
The leisurely meander along the banks of the River Tyne also passes through Corbridge, Hexham, Haydon Bridge, Bardon Mill and Haltwhistle before crossing into Cumbria.
Just a short, six mile long, but impressive nonetheless, the Tanfield Railway is the ‘oldest railway in the world’.
A steam locomotive and Victorian carriages travel through rolling countryside and valleys from the Marley Hill Motor Shed in Gateshead, taking passengers back in time.
The line follows an old horse-drawn coal railway and crosses the Causey Arch Bridge, believed to be the oldest single-arch railway bridge in the world.
Another heritage line in the northeast, the Weardale Railway connects Bishop Auckland with, unsurprisingly, Weardale.
At present, 16 miles of the line has been restored for passengers and freight, with visitors able to travel from Bishop Auckland to Stanhope, when it is open.
They can get off at stations along the way, including Wolsingham and Witton-le-Wear, where the Low Barns Nature Reserve is located.
In October 2021, a feasibility study to examine the reopening of the line to commuters was given the green light.
Aln Valley Railway
When the Aln Valley Railway reopens in April this year, it will be celebrating its 10th anniversary.
Built and operated by volunteers, the railway aims to reopen the line which connected the main line of the east coast at Alnmouth with the market town of Alnwick.
Alnwick station is now home to the used bookstore Barter Books, and the construction of the A1 bypass made it extremely expensive to reopen the line before it closed in the 1960s, but there is a new station at Lionheart Enterprise Park on the outskirts of town.
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