The signs are good for the Northumberland Line after the green light was given for construction to get underway on three new stations.
Contracts have been exchanged for principal contractor Morgan Sindall Infrastructure to formally start work on Bedlington, Blyth Bebside and Seaton Delaval Stations.
Main construction works are progressing at pace, with station works well underway at Newsham and works approaching completion in Ashington, and 21km of new track is already installed.
Earlier this year the fourth and final underpass for the line was created in a 100-hour operation.
Both Bedlington and Bebside Stations feature two platforms, while Seaton Delaval has one. All will feature parking, accessible access and link into local cycling and walking routes to encourage sustainable travel.
Northumberland County Council Leader Glen Sanderson said: “Each week sees further progress on this fantastic scheme and we’re very pleased to be able to formally award these contracts for the stations to Morgan Sindall Infrastructure.
“We have more and more infrastructure taking shape along the line, with track going down and stations going up.
"Along with the benefits to the economy and boosts to our education and tourism sectors, this line will bring a range of green benefits to support our climate change agenda, helping to reduce congestion and improve air quality on key roads by moving people away from car travel and onto public transport."
Rail Minister Huw Merriman said: "This is a positive step forward as work continues at pace to restore this historic railway line by next summer, encouraging investment and growth across the north-east.
"Once re-opened, the Northumberland line will slash journey times for residents in half by delivering regular services for passengers that will connect them to new jobs, education and business opportunities."
Pieter Esbach, Operations Director from Morgan Sindall Infrastructure added: “We’re pleased with how the project is progressing, the stations will help people connect to places within the local region boosting the local economy.
“We're also working closely with the local community, we've created nine new apprenticeships for local people and 53 full time equivalent local jobs and we continue to engage with over 1,600 local school students inspiring future career opportunities.”
The completed line will see brand new stations built at Ashington, Bedlington, Blyth Bebside, Newsham, Seaton Delaval and Northumberland Park, along with miles of track relaid and a host of new infrastructure.
Once complete, passengers will be able to enjoy a journey time between Newcastle and Ashington of just 35 minutes, with services operating regularly seven days a week.