Transport North East

Leamside Line

The case for reopening the Leamside Line 

Transport North East is working on the reopening of the Leamside Line, a disused 21-mile railway line which runs from Gateshead to County Durham, connecting with the East Coast Main Line (ECML).  

The Leamside Line is the most important piece of infrastructure for the economic future of the North East, which is why Transport North East, cross party politicians and business leaders have been leading the campaign for its re-opening.  

The reopening of the Line would provide critical connections – both passenger and freight – to towns and cities across the North East, helping to drive the economy and growth of the region using existing infrastructure. 

Re-opening Leamside will enable parts of the region – who have no access to rail – to be connected with Newcastle, Sunderland and Teesside, as well as with significant employers like Nissan and Amazon. 

The Leamside Line is the missing connection between recent Government investment in the north and south of the region and would connect South East Northumberland to Washington, Durham and Teesside. 

Cross Party MP and business support in the North East to reopen the Leamside Line | Transport North East

History of the line 

The line has a rich history of providing vital connections for towns across the North East. Its decline started in the 1960s when local stations, such as Washington and Ferryhill, were closed following the recommendations in the 1963 Reshaping of British Railways (known as the Beeching Report). 

The line was then subsequently used as a diversionary route on the ECML until the mid-1980s when the mainline was electrified and re-signalled. 

Sadly however, the line was mothballed by Network Rail in 1992 after a freight terminal on the line at Follingsby (Gateshead) was closed. Work is underway to reopen the line.   

Improving connections in the North East  

Work is complete on a Strategic Outline Case for a section of the Leamside Line known as the ‘Washington Metro Loop’. 

The Outline Case builds on earlier 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   

View a summary of the Washington Metro Loop here.  

The future of Leamside 

Work continues to reopen the line, working with a number of cross-party and business stakeholders.  

Chair of the North East Joint Transport Committee and Leader of Gateshead Council Martin Gannon, said “Successive governments have committed to the delivery of Northern Powerhouse Rail in full and that includes re-opening the Leamside Line. The North East is united in one voice and our message to the Government is clear – the Leamside Line is a win for the North East, a win for the UK and a win for this Government”. 

Making the case for the Leamside Line

Stay up to date

(L to R) Sedgefield MP Paul Howell, Managing Director of Transport North East Tobyn Hughes and South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck met with Minister for Transport Huw Merriman MP today to discuss support for the re-opening of the Leamside Line.