A NEW rail stop to serve one of the region's busiest hospitals is to be built - 25 years after it was first suggested.

Plans for the stop at Middlesbrough's James Cook University Hospital have now been approved by Middlesbrough Council's Planning Committee.

Work on the long-delayed project will begin this summer, with completion scheduled for March 2014.

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Funding for the new station was secured following a successful bid by Tees Valley Unlimited (TVU) to the Govenrment's Local Sustainable Transport Fund.

Welcoming the latest development, TVU managing director Stephen Catchpole said: "This new station is a long-standing aspiration which is being funded as part of the £4.5m received through the Local Sustainable Transport Fund, alongside the improvements at 11 existing Tees Valley stations.

"It will help us realise one of our priority transport ambitions, enhancing our existing rail network and supporting the economic regeneration of the area by increasing the mobility of workers and the accessibility of a key site."

The 113m long halt will be to the south of the hospital next to the existing blue footbridge which currently serves the hospital and the Park End and Berwick Hills estates.

The existing footbridge and upgraded pedestrian and cycle routes will be used to access the platform from the east of the single track railway line.

The station will be lit and covered by CCTV with waiting shelters and other passenger facilities.

Councillor Nicky Walker, Middlesbrough Council's executive member for transport, said: "The transport infrastructure of Middlesbrough and the Teesside area is fragile and any transport initiative is extremely welcome.

"For a number of years we have been advancing the proposal of a rail halt at James Cook University Hospital and I am really pleased this will be realised.

"This new station halt will fill a critical gap in the Tees Valley's rail network.

"Over 50 per cent of traffic in Marton Road enters the hospital and I am sure that over a period of time a new rail halt will reduce the number of cars substantially."

South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust's director of planning Jill Moulton said: "The rail link will be a major boost for the trust, our staff and our patients. It is something we have been talking about for over 25 years and will greatly improve access for patients."