The East Coast Mainline
On behalf of the North East Joint Transport Committee we believe that the key to achieving the region’s long-term economic plan lies in upgrading the East Coast Mainline.
As a region, the North East relies on this vital line for all of our services to London, Scotland and the Midlands, as well as to Leeds and Manchester.
Currently the route is operating at full capacity as between Northallerton, Newcastle and Berwick, the line consists of only two tracks. This means any high-speed services – which could reach up to 125mph – must compete for space alongside local rail services and freight. As a result, punctuality is steadily declining, and hold-ups caused by other trains is the biggest single cause of delay. Given that the line last saw major investment three decades ago, investment is well overdue to make it faster and more resilient.
When Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) and High Speed 2 (HS2) are built, high speed trains will use the ECML to reach the North East. We believe a solution needs to happen now, ahead of HS2 and NPR to enable to North East to prosper. If the North East is not well-connected to the UK rail network the local economy will suffer.
We have a solution to this ongoing problem. We are leading a campaign to reopen the disused Leamside Line which provides an effective solution to boost capacity. The Leamside Line runs parallel to the main line and could take on all freight and local rail services if it were successfully reopened. This would free up capacity on the existing mainline for fast passenger trains, it would also offer the opportunity to integrate our local railways and Tyne and Wear Metro, enabling major improvements in connectivity for people across the region.
As we navigate the challenges and changes that COVID-19 presents, we believe the Government must invest significantly in the East Coast Mainline in the North East to support our region’s ambitions for economic growth and recovery. We are specifically calling for this investment to be made over the period 2024-34.