Horden back on track after 56 years

Saturday 15th August 2020




A brand new station at Horden opened quietly without any ceremonial ribbon cutting, balloons or cup cakes during the Covid-19 ‘essential travel only’ lockdown era on Monday 29th June.


I wrote about it on 5th May as part of a review of ’50 new stations’ but to recap …. £10.5 million cost …. met by DfT’s New Stations Fund Round Two: £4 million …. North East Local Enterprise Partnership £3.34 million …. Durham County Council £2.18 million …. work began in May 2019 …. serves an area of 60,000 residents …. Peterlee, Horden, Easington …. original station closed in 1964 …. located on Newcastle to Teeside coastal line between Seaham and Hartlepool.


Now non-essential travel is allowed, I thought it was high time for a trip up north to take a look at what £10.5 million has bought in the way of station facilities.

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Durham County Council had a long-held ambition to reopen the station at Horden and applied for funding from the DfT back in 2013. This was unsuccessful so plans were revised and a new preferred site identified (closer to the original station which was 200 yards further south from the new site – see photo below).


The revised plan was consulted on in 2016 and got a 98.6% thumbs-up approval rating from the 1,397 respondents. Another cosultation followed in 2018 with plans for the station gaining formal approval later that year. Its been a realtively quick process and build as these things go.

I was interested to see how the visualisations Network Rail promoted back in 2018 had turned out in practice.

In paticular the impressive footbridge and one of the longest access ramps I’ve ever seen…

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I can’t do fancy drone shots to compare with the visual above but here are some photos of the footbridge and ramps as they’ve turned out and showing how they really are the dominant feature of the new station.


Another positive visualisation was a bus stop complete with a bus waiting conveniently located just a few yards from the platform…

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Which turned out to be correct and how nice to see a bus stop as close to the platforms as the nearest non-priority car parking space.


It’s the hourly Go North East operated ‘indigo’ branded local circular route 209/210 linking nearby Peterlee with Horden and now diverted to serve the station via the new access road. If you don’t mind which way round the circle you travel a bus arrives on a 209 about ten minutes before trains depart (to both Newcastle and Middlesbrough) and on a 210 about ten minutes after. So that’s handy.

It’s nice to see a full timetable on display and the icing on the cake would have been to include bus real time departures on the monitor s


howing train departures by the platform entrance/exit and ticket machine. Perhaps that would have burst the £10.5 million budget though.


Especially as it’s one of those new fangled Northern TVMs where you have to specify the journey you’re making before being able to buy a ticket meaning it seems to take forever rather than something simple like just buying an off-peak return.


As you can see from the departure screen display above, Horden is served by the hourly Northern service between Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesbrough with journeys continuing on to Nunthorpe east of Middlesbrough and even some journeys all the way to Whitby.

It’s a 37 minute journey to/rom Newcastle (16 minutes to/from Sunderland) and a 41 minute journey to/from Middlesbrough.

This compares favourably with bus routes serving Horden with journey times of 39 minutes to Sunderland; around an hour to Newcastle (with a change in Peterlee) and about the same to Middlesbrough.

An off peak return on the train to Newcastle is £7.90, Sunderland is £5.10 and Middlesbrough £6.60.

With these journey times and good value prices it was’t surprising, and indeed was very encouraging, to see large numbers of passengers heading into Newcastle at lunch time today.


Sadly it was noticeable none of these passengers were putting on their face coverings as the train approached….


…. even though they were under the watchful eye of Northern’s Travel Safe Officers.


The officers told me they’d catch them on their return journey this evening. I hope so, as my journey to Horden had been on a busy Northern train with a groups of men and women in their twenties paying no heed to social distancing and shouting and laughing loudly. It wouldn’t surprise me to hear of a Covid spike on Teeside and Tyneside in the next week or so. I kept my distance and hand sanitised.

Back to Horden station. As well as two massive access ramps, stairs and footbridge, two platforms, a fancy ticket machine, electronic departure screen, bus stop lay-by alongside a car park for about 130 cars (with no electric recharge points but disabled and parent/baby priority spaces near the platforms) …. what else does £10.5 million buy you?


Two basic shelters (one on each platform – on the Newcastle bound platform it’s recessed into the railings as the platform is narrower than the Middlesbrough bound platform) both with the usual seat and perch arrangements …


…. but also a traditional image of a clock incorporated into some kind of electronic display that I thought might be inter-active, but wasn’t.


There are also two lots of three seats on each platform ….


…. and the usual electronic displays showing the next departures both visually and audibly.


The car park is free to users between 8am and 6pm as well as between 6pm and 8am. Make of that what you will.


And there are a few bike stands but it’s a shame the budget didn’t stretch to a covered area to protect the cycles proving the person who specified them is not a cyclist.


There’s no doubt Horden station is serving a good catchment area and on today’s showing is already proving popular.

Durham County Council projected 71,000 passengers would use the station by 2024 – that’s around 200 a day, and I reckon that’ll be easily achieved which just goes to show station reopenings are a good thing if in the right location with a good catchment area, which Peterlee and Horden certainly are.

I noticed on board the trains the station is announced as ‘Horden Peterlee’ (rather than just Horden) which also appears on the visual displays, although there’s no mention of nearby Peterlee at the station itself.


The station facilities are rather basic and Horden won’t be winning any design awards for elegance or architectural merit, but it’ll definitely be a strong contender for winning the Longest Access Ramp At A New Station of the Year Award.

I assume they’re cheaper to instal and with minimal operating costs compared to lifts, which seem to be the norm at new stations elsewhere.

It turns out £10.5 million doesn’t buy much these days. But then this is the railway industry.


Roger French

19 thoughts on “Horden back on track after 56 years

Add yours

  1. Where can I find that map in the 3rd photo? Interested as from the looks of it shows integrated bus and train routes?


  2. It looks like the footbridge is significantly higher than normal, or is that just my imagination … if it is, does anyone know the reason for that?

    It’s good to see that the bus network has been linked in and that times give good connections, but I can’t help thinking that they’re not trying very hard for the commuter market, with the first bus arriving at 0847 and the last bus leaving at 1731, meaning that the earliest you can arrive into Newcastle or Middlesbrough is a few minutes before 1000, and the latest you can leave is shortly after 1630. Hopefully as things settle down, there will be a review of buses in the town and the network can be revised to take into account connections to rail services including commuters – and maybe even Sundays! Really all large residential areas of the town should have a rail connection to the station, whereas the south-west is conspicuously left out from the 209/210. If local residents have to catch two buses just to get to the railway station then they’re unlikely to bother.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. To get from Horden to Middlesbrough by bus you can go 2 ways one to Peterlee or to Hartlepool.Hartlepool is better as it has 2 fast buses via Seaton Carew and Port Clarence hourly and 4 slow ones via Billingham and Stockton.the x10 and x11 are,or where,only hourly plus there was a less frequent non express service every 2 hours.obviously the train is much faster.direct services from Horden to Newcastle stopped years ago but for the record the joint United and Northern 231 and x5 Hartlepool to Newcastle went via Horden but where slow and the fast x55 Hartlepool Newcastle run only by United went a different way which I vaguely remember express Hartlepool to Gateshead.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In much of the country toilets at small stations are kept locked and you have to get the key from the ticket office (or ring a bell and show your ticket to a camera before the door will be remotely unlocked) as otherwise they’re simply smashed by the vandals who gravitate to railway stations.

      Given that (outside the south-east and Merseyside) most trains have toilets on board, toilets at stations aren’t essential, and in my experience the people who complain the most about lack of toilets on stations are people who have no intention of travelling by train but who wrongly assume that railway stations “must” have public toilets (in the same way that petrol stations “must” have public toilets).


  4. Thinking of the footbridge: is it now standard practice to design structures so they don’t need to be changed if a line is electrified?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I’m pretty sure that’s the case – it’s a lot cheaper to build a higher bridge now than to have to raise it later. It still looks high even for an electrified line though!


  5. I’ve never been to the North East of England, but it’s interesting as to how an area with such a high dense population took so long to get a train station. I can tell that the predicted passenger numbers will be beaten based on a quick look on Google Maps. Peterlee seems to be a major town centre.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That area has a lot of vandals and public toilets would be destroyed in no time.the only ones on the Durham Coast Line with public toilets are Newcastle, Hartlepool, Thornaby and Middlesbrough believe it or not Sunderland doesn’t and it’s now a city!I expect Horden has plenty of bushes to go behind!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Peterlee is an interesting case. It has never had a railway station in the town at all.

      Up until the end of the 1940s, Peterlee did not exist. At all. There was the old mining village of Horden on the west side of the A1086, with its station on the coast line, but then there was nothing except for a handful of isolated farmsteads between the A1086 and A19. Peterlee started to be developed during the late 1950s, but even at the start of the 1970s there was very little development south of the B1320. Given that that was all happening at a time when road traffic was in the ascendancy and rail traffic was declining sharply, it is no surprise that the town was built without any connection to the rail network.

      Bear in mind that MUCH larger new towns like Telford and Milton Keynes didn’t get their main railway stations until the 1980s, long after they were established and sizeable towns, up until then making do with peripheral stations for the existing villages that they subsumed. While many new towns did have railway stations from the start, most of the ones that did were expansions of existing towns rather than starting from scratch completely.

      Yes, Horden should have had its station reinstated years ago, but better late than never! Things do seem to be gathering pace now, with Skelmersdale looking more likely than ever to get a new railway line into the town built now and plans progressing in Washington and a couple of other new towns as well.


      1. Peterlee was one of 3 co Durham new towns; Newton Aycliffe, Peterlee and Washington.after 1974 Washington was moved into the upstart county of Tyne and Wear.Peterlee was based around a village called Shotton which is on the west side, Horden is slightly separate from Peterlee.like most modern stations Horden will have been built using the parkway concept and strange that they didn’t call it Peterlee Parkway.fairly nearby Yarm was built around this dubious concept but again for some reason isn’t called Yarm Parkway (as far as I know Callerton Parkway on the Tyne and Wear Metro is the only one in the north east with Parkway in the name). coronavirus has changed the whole pseudo environmental concept of the parkway, and probably park and ride buses too, after all who in their right mind is going to drive to a station risk coronavirus,real or imagined,when they could drive all the way?Peter Lee by the way was I believe a Durham Miners leader.i expect that the park and ride buses of Oxford are very quiet with nobody shouting at their children “oh Octavia do be quite!”?

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Interesting thought process on the toilets question. I’ve just got back from a week in Czechia mainly covering a lot of remote track. Most of the toilets were locked if the station had them aside from the larger stations where you invariably had to pay (sometimes more than my rail fare travelling at quarter fare as I’m 65). I soon learnt that if I needed to go to try and use them on the trains which even the smallest single unit would have one.
    I suppose it all goes with an even more basic question of new stations with no ticket offices which I hadn’t considered before this debate.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I found that local trains in Poland had toilets but they where always locked out of use to prevent vandalism and some of the trips where long over 2 hours.i have a Slovenian friend that flatly refused to believe that Slovenia had any squat toilets or ever had them but I managed to find some at a remote station near the Triglav National Park in a semi derelict state by usable.


  7. Roger, your rail map is too old to show the other recently opened station at James Cook Hospital, between Middlesbrough and Marton. So from Horden you can get directly to the hospital. By changing at Hartlepool to Grand Central you can get to London; by changing at Middlesbrough you can catch a TransPennine; and by changing at Sunderland, Heworth or Newcastle you can reach any station on the Metro (though you can’t book through tickets). So Horden/Peterlee is now well connected.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Toilets are rare at stations, either existing stations or new ones, because of vandalism. Horden – Peterlee is a deprived area, which is one of the reasons why it was selected for the new station, so anything and everything will be vandalised.

    Lifts are also subject to vandalism. Lifts at railway stations can only be available for use where they are monitored in case rescue is needed in the event of failure or accident. This monitoring can either be by staff on site, or from a remote (but active) CCTV monitoring centre. Lifts were installed at Long Eaton station in 2012 (because the existing ramps from road up to platform) are too steep for wheelchair use. The lifts are only available when the station is staffed ( 06:05 to 16:00, Monday to Saturday and not at all on Sunday, when I checked a couple of months ago).

    Huge ramps as at Horden are now standard at unstaffed new stations; another example is Ilkeston.

    I’m shocked at the picture of the crowd waiting for the train to Newcastle. The platform looks very narrow. Railway Standards require a minimum distance of 2.5 metres between the platform edge and any fixed structure; see GI/RT7016 Interface between Station Platforms, Track and Trains https://catalogues.rssb.co.uk/rgs/standards/GIRT7016%20Iss%205.pdf

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That crowd might have been train spotters but be warned that they won’t see much of interest,loco’s are rare usually restricted to 66’s on the biomass trains which seem to run daily and class 43’s on the test train.the nuclear flask train from the nuclear fission plant near Hartlepool may go through it from time to time usually with class 37’s although I think that I have seen modern 68’s on it and a vague recollection of 47’s or 57’s(like 59’s and 66’s hard to tell apart).


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