The Government’s Rail Minister has issued a plea for patience to residents frustrated with delays to three of the stations on the Northumberland Line.

During a visit to the North East, rail minister Huw Merriman confirmed that the stations at Blyth Newsham, Ashington and Seaton Delaval would be open this summer as planned. However, he was unable to give a definitive date in 2025 for those at Bedlington, Northumberland Park and Blyth Bebside.

Residents and local politicians were left frustrated after the station was confirmed to be delayed late last year. At the time, independent councillor Malcolm Robinson, who represents the Bedlington West ward, called the setback a “kick in the teeth” for the town.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service at the building site for the new station at Newsham, Mr Merriman said: “Of course, we would have wanted all of the stations open at the same time, but what I would just say is since the 1960s when this railway line was closed to passengers, people have been campaigning for it to be reopened.

“Three stations will be open this year. We ask for a little patience for the other three stations which will be open in the following year.

“In the scheme of decades of campaigning, we hope people will see the positives of what is going on here.”

Poor weather and complications arising from mine works were blamed for the delays. Mr Merriman also confirmed that the full cost of the project would be published following its completion.

It follows calls from prominent North East Labour figures for the Government to “come clean” about any additional costs. The scheme was originally forecast to cost £166 million in 2021.

The minister continued: “There have been adverse weather conditions to battle against and we have found masses underground, this being a mining area, that we weren’t quite expecting. It is a testament to the team here that we are in a position to have the entry into service in the summer and those three stations open.

“When we have delays, when we have weather challenges and mining challenges it does add towards the cost. We will look to make sure we publish the completed cost, but we’re focusing on delivering it.

“We have to deliver it at cost and to time – those are the pressures that the team are really well-aware of. When we have got the job completed we will publish the costs of it.

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“It’s so exciting and I really hope that the community use the railway line as much as they can, because it’s going to be a once-in-a-lifetime for this area to regenerate and get people the skills and opportunities that they need. I’m just really excited this is going to be happening.

“This is an investment into Northumberland to allow people to be better connected to Newcastle. When we talk about infrastructure what we mean is people, opportunities and lives transformed because they’ve got better paid jobs, they’ve skills, they’ve got connections to college they need, and I think for the young people here this is really offers hope.”

The Northumberland Line will see passenger rail return to the south east of the county for the first time since the 1960s, when the original line was closed as part of the now-infamous Beeching cuts. Rumours of the delays first surfaced in September, before the news was confirmed in January.