Mass housing development, and the congested East Coast mainline, justifies reopening Leamside/Washington/Newcastle rail line.
The Leamside, Washington diversionary route last used in 1991 caused a mere 19 minutes delay to express passenger services. If reopened with modern signalling and new style level crossings a few more minutes would be saved.
At this point in time if any problems occur between Newcastle and Darlington excessive delays will take place. A skeleton service is implemented from Newcastle diverting trains through Hartlepool and through to Northallerton causing an 80 minute delay. This of course means rail stations Durham and Darlington are bypassed. Other alternatives are wrong line running or shuttle services where possible and the inconvenient coach replacement services.
A Durham East Station, situated near the Ramside, would be of great benefit to Durham County residents and Tyne and Wear residents. When the main line is closed due to maintenance or any other problem, trains could easily be diverted to the Durham East Station, northbound trains could reach this station almost on time, southbound trains would incur a mere 10 to 12 minutes delay. East of Durham City is the most densely populated anyway, therefore it would be an advantage to the majority of rail travellers.
Diversionary routes have other benefits: 1. Freight trains can use it therefore not delaying passenger services; 2. Help reduce inconvenient coach replacement services. 3. Allowing track engineers to maintain the fast main line.
If, and when, this line could be opened it will have a great benefit to the North East. In itself it will not be a high speed line, but it will enable the East Coast main line to become a higher speed line.
To prove that high speed journeys can be made on good clear well maintained track, in September 1985 the Tyne Tees Pullman on a special run left Newcastle at 11.10am and arrived at London Kings Cross at 1.29pm, completing the non-stop run in 139 minutes. This compares very favourably to the proposed timing of the £80billion-plus London to Birmingham HS2 project.
Once this line is back in use stations at Fence Houses, Shiney Row, Penshaw, Washington would be 15 to 20 minutes from central Newcastle, and three hours from London Kings Cross.
The Leamside Line passes very close to the Rainton Bridge business park employing over 3,000 people with inadequate parking facilities.
Every nut and bolt, sheet of metal that goes into the Nissan plant goes by heavy road transport, every vehicle that is produced comes out by heavy road transport, that is not very green, and yer the railway line passes the back door of the factory.
There has already been a mass housing development taking place in this area, and more development to take place of the next few years. Mass development means a mass population increase. Road building is on hold at the moment.
Where you have a train line running through a densely populated area to a major city and all the previous mentioned benefits, it seems rather ludicrous not to have it in service.
I strongly urge all local MPs and councillors, transport authorities to look ahead and take this opportunity to restore this vital link as soon as possible.
Coun Reg Coulson,
Hetton Town Council