THE reopening of Wearside’s disused Leamside railway line has moved a step closer.
The North Eastern Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has commissioned a study into the business case for reopening the line.
The move comes just weeks after the last ever meeting of the Tyne and Wear Integrated Transport Authority heard about a Nexus plan to introduce a new circular Metro route, connecting Pelaw, Washington, South Hylton, Sunderland and East Boldon, by connecting the Leamside line and the former Sunderland to Durham rail line west of South Hylton.
The LEP has identified improving transport links as one of the key priorities to boosting the region’s economy.
The new North East unified authority has taken over responsibilty for transport from County Durham to Northumberland, in an effort to provide a more strategic approach to the development of services.
A spokesman said the LEP was looking at improving links between Tyneside and County Durham.
He added: “The North East Local Enterprise Partnership has commissioned some work to investigate the potential for the re-introduction of rail services between Newcastle and Northallerton, and the role the Leamside Line might play in this.
“The intention is to inform forthcoming work by Network Rail and the wider rail industry as part of its ‘long-term planning process’, and in particular to provide evidence that can inform Network Rail’s planned East Coast route study, North of England route study and 2018 East Coast capacity review.
“The work commissioned by the North East LEP is the first step in the longer process of developing a business case for the line.”