TALKS to discuss reopening the mothballed Leamside railway line have been labelled “disappointing.”
Washington and Sunderland West MP Sharon Hodgson met Transport Minister Simon Burns to discuss bringing the line back into use and extending the Metro to Washington.
She said: “The minister and his officials have invited us to bring together key stakeholders like local authorities, business leaders and the Local Enterprise Partnership to draw up a comprehensive and up-to-date business plan for the various options that reopening the Leamside Line could provide.
“We already know from previous assessments that making the investment would more than pay for itself through improving access to work and business opportunities, as well as the possibility of freight uses from Nissan and the Port of Tyne, so it is slightly disappointing that we have been sent back to complete another one.
“However, I am confident a new feasibility study and business plan will reinforce the strong case that already exists, and I will make bringing together the relevant people to make it happen a priority for the new year.”
Mrs Hodgson’s meeting was arranged after she last month tabled a petition to Parliament on behalf of hundreds of constituents and people from across the North East who have signed up to the campaign to reopen the line.
She made the case for the extension in an earlier debate on the North East Economy in Westminster Hall.
She said: “Tabling this petition is just the next step in our campaign to link Washington to the Metro, opening up the whole region to workers in my constituency and opening up the town to new businesses coming in.”
Also at the Department of Transport meeting were Mrs Hodgson’s parliamentary colleagues Phil Wilson, MP for Sedgefield, and City of Durham MP Roberta Blackman Woods.
Proposals for reopening the Leamside line have been in place for some years, with possible station locations in Washington, Penshaw, Fence Houses and Gateshead. It has also been suggested the line could be extended to link up with the Metro at South Hylton, connecting Washington directly to Sunderland.