The latest major milestone on the Northumberland Line has been reached after the Government approved a key part of the authorisation process.
A Transport and Works Act Order (TWAO) was needed to authorise the closure of level crossings, the acquisition and use of land, and certain works at key points along the route.
A month-long public inquiry into the TWAO ran throughout November last year led by a government-appointed inspector. The inquiry gave the council, objectors and other interested parties a chance to have their say on the detailed plans.
The Secretary of State for Transport published his decision to make the order on Monday 27 June.
The decision letter states: “The Secretary of State agrees with the Inspector that the Order is an integral part of the Scheme and restoring passenger services to the Northumberland Line is of considerable importance to securing improvements in public transport and contributing to an improvement in social and economic conditions in South-East Northumberland.”
Leader of Northumberland County Council Cllr Glen Sanderson welcomed the announcement and said: “This is really positive news and is yet another key milestone this fantastic project has reached.
“The public inquiry was extremely thorough and carefully examined every aspect of the scheme over the course of several weeks.
“We can now look forward with renewed confidence as we continue to bring this much-needed rail scheme forward.”
Main construction work on the Northumberland Line is due to get underway this summer.
The scheme, which will see six new stations, deliver 18 miles of upgraded track, access improvements and new signal locations, is due to be open by December 2023.
It's planned to run a half hourly passenger service between Newcastle and Ashington – stopping at Bedlington, Bebside, Newsham, Seaton Delaval and Northumberland Park along the way.