MPs react with anger after Leamside Line reinstatement rejected by Government

North East MPs have reacted with anger to news that a bid to reinstate the mothballed Leamside railway line has been rejected by the Government.

Thursday, 28th October 2021, 6:11 pm

The £60million plan would have seen the line restored between County Durham and Pelaw to allow local train services to return to places such as Washington for the first time in decades, while also paving the way for a major extension of the Tyne and Wear Metro and increased rail freight capacity.

Sunderland, South Tyneside and Durham MPs were informed in a letter by Transport Minister Chris Heaton-Harris that despite the project demonstrating “good potential in terms of transport and socio-economic benefits, the overall cost of the re-instatement remains prohibitive”.

Houghton and Sunderland South MP Bridget Phillipson MP said the rejection was a missed opportunity: “Re-opening the line with a station at Fencehouses would finally have brought modern rail to our community,” she said.

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The Leamside line

“There is wide support and a strong economic case behind it and its extremely disappointing that ministers haven’t recognised this.

“I won’t stop fighting until we have the public transport network we deserve.”

Her Jarrow colleague Kate Osborne accused the Government of failing to keep it own promises on ‘levelling up’ the regions.

“This is extremely disappointing but not surprising coming from an out of touch Conservative Government. Re-establishing this line would’ve been transformative for our local communities,” she said.

Bridget Phillipson

“Our region has been starved of investment in rail infrastructure for many years and this is yet another kick in the teeth from the Tories down in Westminster.

“They like to talk a lot about levelling-up, but when it comes to Gateshead and South Tyneside we are yet to see any proper investment. Instead, just more empty slogans.”

Earlier this year MPs, council leaders and businesses wrote to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, asking him to reinstate the line as part of wider investment in rail in the region, including upgrades to the East Coast Mainline and the full northern completion of HS2.

However, the Government has said “There are currently no further Ideas Fund rounds planned for the foreseeable future”.

Kate Osborne

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City of Durham MP Mary Kelly Foy slammed the decision: “The North East has long been held back by chronic under-investment in rail infrastructure,” she said.

"Our railways are at capacity, we cannot grow or improve connectivity without investment in the Leamside line.

“Reinstating the Leamside Line would have been a truly transformative investment, unshackling our region from ageing and neglected infrastructure, generating much needed economic growth, and radically improving connectivity between communities in our region and the wider country.

Mary Kelly Foy

“It is incredibly frustrating that the Government have chosen to recognise the unmistakable benefits of the scheme yet still decline to take it further due to a cost of 600 million.

“That our region is not considered worthy of an investment that size when much larger projects have been given the green light in south over recent decades is insulting to our people.

“The Conservative Government’s decision to overlook major investment in our region highlights once more that levelling up remains a hollow buzzword.

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