North East welcomes PM’s pledge to build Northern Powerhouse Rail in full

North East leaders have welcomed the Government’s commitment to build Northern Powerhouse Rail, after it was included in a new list of accelerated infrastructure schemes announced in last week’s mini-budget.

The Chancellor’s comments come after Prime Minister Liz Truss pledged to deliver NPR in full during her Conversative leadership campaign. The Government previously scaled back the original plans for the Liverpool-Newcastle rail line, so this latest development is positive news for the North East’s rail ambitions.

The full proposal for Northern Powerhouse Rail included reopening the Leamside Line, a 21-mile disused rail line in the North East, one of the most important pieces of infrastructure to drive economic growth in the region.

Stretching from Gateshead, through South Tyneside, Sunderland and County Durham, the Leamside Line would bring together recent Government investments in the north and south of the region, connecting South East Northumberland to Washington, Durham and Teesside and multiplying the Government’s investment in the Northumberland Line and in the new Ferryhill station and Stillington line from Durham to Teesside.

If reopened, the line would free up much needed capacity on the East Coast Main Line and greatly improve resilience and reliability between York and Newcastle, as well as enabling communities in the region – who have no access to rail – to be connected with Newcastle, Sunderland and Teesside. This would include significant development for Washington – the fourth largest town in the UK without a rail connection – through an extension of the Tyne and Wear Metro – the South of Tyne and Wearside Loop.

Cllr Martin Gannon, Chair of the North East Joint Transport Committee and Transport for the North Board Member, said: “The Leamside Line is absolutely vital to the long-term economic prosperity of the region – we urgently need to deliver this important piece of infrastructure and the campaign to reopen the line has garnered huge interest from cross-party MPs and businesses alike.

“The North East is united on this; reopening the line would change the region’s socio-economic future and I’m determined to make it a reality for local people. I’m pleased to hear commitments from Government to build Northern Powerhouse Rail in full. As the original proposal includes the reopening of the Leamside Line we are of course very interested in this positive development and look forward to working the Government to understand the finer detail.

“If we are able to deliver the Leamside Line, this will help to increase capacity on the congested East Coast Main Line and speed up journeys between York and Newcastle. We’ll continue to work hard to make the case for reopening the Leamside Line.”

Several business cases are being developed in the North East to make the case for reopening the Leamside Line, a number of which will be presented to the North East Joint Transport Committee in the coming months.

The Government’s latest comments on NPR will be discussed by northern leaders at the Transport for the North Board this Thursday 29 September.

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