The first scheduled train stopped at the new Horden station on Monday, 29 June, marking the entry into service of the £10.55 million development near Peterlee.
Located on South East View, the station will link the east of the county into the local, regional and national rail network and support the wider regeneration of the area.
The development is a joint project between Durham County Council, Network Rail, Northern and Story Contracting and is being funded by the council, with an additional £4.4 million from the Department of Transport’s New Stations Fund and a grant from the North East Local Enterprise Partnership.
Rail industry projections suggest the station will see more than 70,000 passengers each year, once social distancing measures are lifted.
Cllr Simon Henig, Leader of Durham County Council, said: “It has been a long-held ambition to have a station at Horden so, after a number of years of hard work and commitment by ourselves and our partners, it’s fantastic that we are now ready to welcome the first train and the first passengers.
“This new facility will open up significant opportunities for communities across east Durham, by providing a direct transport link to Teesside, Wearside and Tyneside. And, of course, it will also make it easier for people from outside the area to travel to the east of the county, whether for business or pleasure.
“It is going to provide a major economic boost to the county and I’m sure residents and businesses will be keen to take advantage.”
Transport Secretary and Northern Powerhouse Minister Grant Shapps, who visited the site at the beginning of the year, said: “Our ambitious plans to restore and revitalise the railways of the North East sits at the heart of our commitment to level up infrastructure across the country, build a railway that works for everyone, and kickstart our economy as we begin the recovery from Covid-19.
“I’ve seen first-hand how the new Horden Station will improve connectivity for thousands of people, easing congestion in Durham and enabling quick, convenient travel between Newcastle and Middlesbrough.”
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the official opening event for the station has been postponed and will take place when it is safe for it to do so.
Passengers using Horden Station are reminded of government guidance to consider all other forms of transport before using public transport. They are also reminded that everyone using public transport in England must wear a face covering unless they are exempt.
Anyone without a legitimate reason to visit the station may be refused access in order to ensure the safety of staff and passengers.
Helen Golightly, Chief Executive of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP), said: “Improved travel connections open up both leisure, employment and business opportunities which is why we were keen to support the development of Horden Rail Station by investing £3.34m of Local Growth Fund funding.
“We look forward to passengers and local communities and economies reaping the benefits this new station will bring.”
Kieran Dunkin, principal programme sponsor for Network Rail, said: “We’re absolutely delighted that Horden station is now open for passengers.
“The station is vital to help support the communities and economies which our railway serves and will provide improved connections across the region, opening up both leisure and employment opportunities.
“This has been a great example of partnership working and we look forward to passengers reaping the benefits of this much needed project.”
Tony Baxter, regional director at Northern, said: “It’s fantastic to see a new station in County Durham and a real honour to be the first custodians of the facility.
“Our regular services between Tyneside and Teesside will provide people in and around Horden with new commuting and leisure possibilities and will provide the opportunity for further economic growth.
“Northern is extremely proud to have worked in partnership to deliver this station and we look forward to welcoming new customers onto our network with Horden now a gateway not only to the rest of the north east, but the whole of the north of England.”
Work on the station began in January and, thanks to changes to working practices in the light of Government guidance on coronavirus, has continued during the lockdown period.
Enhanced health and safety measures and the use of Personal Protective Equipment has enabled construction teams to carry on working during the pandemic, while strict adherence to social distancing guidelines has helped protect the health of both construction workers and members of the public.
Jason Butterworth, CEO of Story Contracting, said: “Despite the challenges faced during Covid-19 towards the final months of the project, the Horden team were able to adapt and quickly implement numerous additional health and safety measures to continue the work safely. The new station looks fantastic and comes as a result of working in partnership with all involved to provide improved connections where there were no immediate rail links before.”