Transport bosses promise the Northumberland Line will be operational before the end of 2024

160621 northumberland line pic Tyne Tees

Transport chiefs have repeated promises that passengers will be travelling on the Northumberland Line before the end of 2024.

The route, formerly known as the Ashington, Blyth and Tyne line, has been closed to commuters since the 1960s.

But following confirmation of government funding worth £34 million, regional bosses are confident the project will stick to its planned timeline.

"The Northumberland line is going great guns," said Tobyn Hughes, managing director of Transport North East.

"Courtesy of a project led by Northumberland Council, we will see trains on that line by 2024, at the latest.

"But they're working closely with the government to try and speed it up as much as they can."

Once completed, the Northumberland Line is due to connect to the Tyne and Wear Metro network at Northumberland Park, in North Tyneside.

Heading north, stops on the route are planned at Seaton Delaval, Blyth, Bedlington and Ashington.

While ministers have stumped up an initial £34 million for design work, the final bill is expected to be closer to £166 million.

Earlier this month, bosses at Northumberland County Council approved plans for a bridge crossing the line to replace an existing level crossing, while the local authority has also applied for a Transport and Works Act Order from the government which would give it compulsory purchase powers for the project.

Transport chiefs in the North East are also watching closely the outcome of the Williams-Shapps rail review, which has recommended sweeping changes in how rail UK networks are managed.

Hughes, who is also managing director of Metro operator Nexus, added: "It's going to take a number of years to unfold, [but we're] working together with the Tees Valley on what we want our rail system to be like and how we will integrate better with buses and the Metro."