A RAIL line which has laid unused for a decade has been brought back to life with a £1.6million investment.
The cash has helped renew the Boldon East Curve stretch of track.
The project will give the region an economic boost by allowing freight trains to go directly east from the Port of Tyne to pick up the East Coast mainline at Northallerton, saving seven miles and up to two hours on a journey time.
Network Rail has restored 600 yards of the track, along with crossings and signalling, which has been out of use for 10 years.
During that time, trains leaving the port have had to go west along the Metro line to sidings at Pelaw, where the locomotive was decoupled, before being reattached to take the carriages back in the opposite direction.
The port’s chief executive, Andrew Moffat, said: “For us, the shorter rail journey time will have an impact on how many trains we can run in a day and makes us even more competitive as a port.
“To have the curve operational again is not only a great bonus for the port, it is also a very significant addition to the region’s transport infrastructure.
“Reducing rail freight journey times out of the Port of Tyne brings the whole region two hours closer to key markets and suppliers.”
He added the revamp was not only a boost to its rail links with the UK and Europe via the Channel Tunnel, but also meant transporting goods would be more environmentally friendly and could also increase passenger train capacity on the East Coast mainline.
GB Railfreight is a major port user, running around 20 trainloads of biomass wood pellets and 20 of coal every week to the Drax power station.