Local MPs meet Minister for Transport to discuss re-opening of the Leamside Line

MP for Sedgefield, Paul Howell, MP for Washington and Sunderland West, Sharon Hodgson, South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck and MP for Blaydon Liz Twist, today held a productive meeting with Minister for Transport Huw Merriman MP, to discuss potential Government support to re-open the Leamside Line.

Alongside Transport North East Managing Director, Tobyn Hughes, the MPs presented the Minister with a copy of the Executive Summary of the Strategic Outline Case for the Washington Metro Loop – a critical part of the overall Leamside Line project – which has been submitted to the Department of Transport for consideration, as approved by the North East Joint Transport Committee.

The Leamside Line is a 21-mile stretch of disused railway line which runs from Gateshead to County Durham, connecting with the East Coast Main Line (ECML).  The campaign to re-open the Line is backed by Cross Party politicians across the North East and would enable parts of the region – who have no access to rail – to be connected with Newcastle, Sunderland and Teesside.  

Commenting on the meeting, Paul Howell MP said “We very much welcomed the opportunity to meet with the Minister today and it was a positive meeting. We have been clear in our view that re-opening the Leamside Line all the way from Ferryhill in my constituency, through Washington and to Tyneside is the most important transport infrastructure investment the Government can make in our region and is critical to the success and economic development of the North East. We can achieve an early win by starting with the Washington Metro Loop.

“We had constructive discussions outlining our key ask that the Government should help the region develop the Business Case and identify the funding. The Minister was clear about the funding pressures that exist but undertook to review the case provided, and to revert initially by the end of March. I am pleased that the Minister has taken the time to hear us and look forward to his observations on the submission.

Sharon Hodgson MP, who has campaigned for 17 years to re-open the Line said “Re-opening the Leamside Line is one of the biggest actions that the UK Government can take to level up the North East, and today’s meeting was a step forward in our campaign to secure further Government investment in our region’s future.

“But there is still a lot of work to be done and I will continue to advocate for the people of Washington and Sunderland West. Washington is the fourth largest town in the UK that does not have access to rail services. I am firm in my belief that that must change and that the Washington Metro Loop in particular will provide essential transport services to the area and members of my constituency.”

South Shields MP, Emma Lewell-Buck said “I welcome today’s meeting with the Minister for Transport. There is a clear cross-party consensus in the North East that Government investment in the re-opening Leamside Line is one of critical importance and the biggest commitment this Government can make in backing its own agenda to level up our region.

“Re-opening the Leamside Line will ensure that the people of the North East secure the rail infrastructure they deserve, and I have no doubt will set the region on the right track to economic growth.”

The Outline Case, which is part funded by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (NELEP) and Transport North East, builds on previous engineering feasibility and demand forecasting work undertaken as part of the wider suite of corridor studies funded through the Joint Transport Committee.  

It is predicted that the new Metro line will:  

  • generate over £90m per year in economic benefits to the region. Each Metro taken in the region generates £11.80 for the economy  
  • create nearly 8m additional passenger journeys a year  
  • reduce carbon emissions by nearly 87,000 tonnes a year by replacing nearly 1.7m car journeys per year – the equivalent of over half a million trees each year  give Washington – the fourth largest town without access to a rail service – new connections to Newcastle, Sunderland and Newcastle Airport  employers, including significant employers like Nissan, Amazon and Port of Tyne will have improved access to between 13,000 to 38,000 new workers  
  • a new Metro and improved access to transport for between 38,000 and 105,000 residents and workers  

To find out more about Transport North East, the North East Transport Plan or North East Rail and Metro Strategy visit www.transportnortheast.gov.uk

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