Fresh push to reopen Leamside Line - rail link to be debated in Parliament next week

Plans to reopen the disused Leamisde rail line will be debated in Parliament next week.

By Kevin Clark
Friday, 4th February 2022, 3:38 pm

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The route – a 21-mile stretch from Gateshead runs through South Tyneside, Sunderland and County Durham – has been closed since 1992.

But it runs through numerous areas where new jobs and housing could be stimulated by new stations.

Supporters also say reopening the line could taking hundreds of cars each day off some the region’s main commuter roads – improving air quality and reducing the region’s carbon footprint.

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Ministers rejected the plans last year but campaigners are continuing to press for the scheme to get the go-ahead. A business plan to support extending the Metro to Washington is currently being drawn up.

The proposals will be discussed in Parliament on Tuesday, February 8.

Washington and Sunderland West MP Sharon Hodgson is a long-time supporter of the proposals and has secured a debate on the ‘Potential merits of reopening the Leamside Line’ at 2.30pm in Westminster Hall.

She was joined today, Friday, February 4, by her Sedgefield and Blaydon colleagues Paul Howell and Liz Twist, along with North East Joint Transport chair Coun Martin Gannon and supporters from the North East Chamber of Commerce, North East Local Enterprise Partnership, Transport for the North, Northern Powerhouse Partnership, Nexus and Transport North East to visit various points on the line.

Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West.

Future work will also include studies into passenger services through County Durham to a reopened Ferryhill station, and the use of the line for freight; all of the studies will shortly be combined into a single comprehensive plan which maximises the benefits to the North East.

This work will feature in a report to the Joint Transport Committee later this year.

“Washington is the fourth largest town in the UK without a direct rail link and it’s gone on for long enough,” said Mrs Hodgson.

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Henri Murison, Director at The Northern Powerhouse Partnership

"There is overwhelming support across business, political and local communities to get things moving and I want to see this happen. I look forward to putting forward our region’s strong strategic case in the Westminster Hall debate next week.”

Lesley Moody, OBE, is President of the North East England Chamber of Commerce: “Re-opening the Leamside Line would improve rail journeys for 1,000s of passengers each day and create more much-needed capacity to move both passengers and goods by rail across the North East,” she said.

"It’s essential to see investment in our rail connections as this infrastructure has such a key part to play if we are to be levelled up in any meaningful sense.”

Henri Murison, Director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, said reopening the Leamside Line was ‘vital for the whole Northern Powerhouse’.

The Leamside Line near Follingsby Park

"It could provide much-needed freight capacity, while playing a key role in Northern Powerhouse Rail by opening up Newcastle, Gateshead and Northumberland to those travelling from Liverpool and Manchester for business or leisure.

“The huge potential benefits of the newly reopened Ferryhill Station – for which we and Paul Howell have long campaigned - will be significantly undermined if it only connects people to Middlesbrough, when the potential is to open up Wearside and Tyneside as well.”

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How the new layout could look, with the reopened Leamside Line in purple and the South of Tyne and Wearside Metro loop in green. All station locations are indicative and yet to be confirmed