Strategy sets its sights firmly on upgrading ECML, the Leamside Line and Metro expansion

The North East Joint Transport Committee will discuss the adoption of the first North East Rail and Metro Strategy – a new blue print which outlines regional plans to upgrade the East Coast Main Line (ECML), reopen the Leamside Line and extend the Tyne and Wear Metro.

The strategy, which covers Tyne and Wear, Durham and Northumberland sets out our region’s collective rail and Metro ambitions and shows how things could look by 2035, recognising the vital role rail and Metro play in lowering carbon emissions, freeing up our roads and boosting our local economy.

Developed on behalf of the North East Joint Transport Committee, the strategy outlines the important part rail and Metro play in the day-to-day lives of local people and communities, both now and in the future.

The committee is set to discuss the new strategy at its next meeting on 14 June following an extensive public consultation. Some of the main actions which the region will take forward include:

  • Obtaining a Government commitment to increasing capacity of the East Coast Main Line for passengers and freight
  • Extending the Tyne and Wear Metro, upgrading existing networks and adding new stations and routes – including the Leamside Line and Northumberland Line
  • Working with Great British Railways to form a new partnership which represents the North East, ensuring local needs are taken into account
  • Introducing new trains – including a more efficient electric fleet on Metro and electric/battery/hydrogen local rail trains
  • Improvements to several regional railways stations including Newcastle and Sunderland and new stations such as Gateshead East

A public consultation on the strategy ran from 14 February until 11 April and around 1,000 responses were received. There was strong support from stakeholders including the public, particularly around Metro extensions and the new fleet which will enter operation in 2024, regional efforts to encourage Government to invest in the East Coast Main Line to boost capacity and the ongoing cross-party campaign to reopen the Leamside Line.

“Our transport links are central to the long-term growth and prosperity of the region, and by having the North East Rail and Metro Strategy in place, we are in the best place to deliver on these bold ambitions.

“Our sights are firmly set on reopening the Leamside Line and extending the Metro and we are already taking steps to make these ambitions a reality. We also want to drive investment in the East Coast Main Line in the North East and we’ll continue to make our region’s case for funding from central Government to boost capacity. These developments will allow us to achieve our health and economic goals and help local people to access better opportunities – whether that’s for employment, leisure or education.

“We want to connect new communities to our rail network, driving more green journeys, tackling air pollution head-on while reducing the reliance on the private car and the associated congestion across our road network.

“Thank you to everyone who took part in the consultation, I’m pleased so many people took the opportunity to have their say and share what they want to see from our network in the future.

“Alongside support for the strategy there were a number of suggestions for improvements including access to multi-service information and some concerns around personal safety which we are discussing with our partners. We want everyone to feel safe on our public transport network.”

Cllr Martin Gannon, Chair, North East Joint Transport Committee

The North East Rail and Metro Strategy follows the adoption of the region’s shared vision for transport, the North East Transport Plan in 2021. The full strategy will be published subject to approval by the committee later this month.

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