Transport Leaders set to discuss next steps for the East Coast Main Line and Leamside Line

The North East Joint Transport Committee is set to discuss the next steps for the East Coast Main Line and the Leamside Line following the publication of the Integrated Rail Plan (IRP) which ruled out Government investment in the Leamside Line as means of adding capacity to the East Coast Main Line (ECML).

A new report, set to be discussed on Monday 20 December, outlines a series of steps the region will action to continue to improve capacity of the ECML in the North East and to take steps to reopen the Leamside Line using Metro and local rail services.

Cllr Martin Gannon, Chair of the North East Joint Transport Committee previously outlined major disappointment in the IRP, calling it a ‘hammer-blow’ for the region. The reinstatement of the Leamside Line, which would enable the region’s future capacity needs to be met between Northallerton and Newcastle, is now not being taken forward by central government, but the IRP suggests it ‘would be best considered as part of any future city region settlement’.

Speaking ahead of the committee, Cllr Gannon said: “Sadly the Integrated Rail Plan was a huge missed opportunity for the Government to invest in the North East. The IRP doesn’t outline the long-overdue investment we urgently need in the North East to boost capacity on the East Coast Main Line and it has effectively ruled out investment in the Leamside Line. Nevertheless, the strategic case for the Leamside Line remains strong and this critically important project for the region is still high on our agenda.

“Work is well underway on the development of an umbrella business case for the route to be used for Metro and local rail services alongside engineering and demand forecasting work on the South of Tyne and Wearside loop.  If the Government won’t provide the commitment through the IRP to deliver the connectivity we urgently need, our region will roll up its sleeves and get the job done.

“The North East wants and deserves so much better and we will be making the case for Government to give us devolved transport funding, so we can take it from here to make our long-term aspirations around the Leamside Line a reality.”

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