Sunderland Conservatives and Liberal Democrats give cross-party support to reopen Leamside railway line
Washington and Sunderland West MP Sharon Hodgson has launched a petition to reopen the route, while council leader Graeme Miller is also strongly in favour.
The line was last used for passenger trains in 1964. A reopened line could see services from Pelaw down to Ferryhill in County Durham, with trains running to Washington, Penshaw, Fence Houses and Durham City.
Transport chiefs have campaigned to reopen the line as it would pave the way for the Metro to be extended to Washington.
It would also revive the spectacular Victoria Viaduct, which has been mothballed since it was last used by freight trains in 1991.
The proposals are part of Transport for the North’s Northern Powerhouse Rail project. However, an alternative, smaller “Leamside South” proposal would exclude areas including Fence Houses.
The Labour MP for Houghton and Sunderland South, Bridget Phillipson, has also voiced support, as has Paul Howell, the Conservative MP for Sedgefield.
Local Conservative and Lib Dem councillors have now added their support too.
Sunderland Conservative leader, Antony Mullen, said: "Sunderland and Washington Conservatives strongly support the reopening of the Leamside line and have done so for many years.
“We opposed the so-called 'Monster Incinerator' development in Washington, precisely because it could have prevented the extension of Metro to Washington. Re-utilising the line will provide greener transport options, improve connectivity within the region, and boost our local economy."
Liberal Democrat leader Niall Hodson said: “Liberal Democrats in the North East have long been calling for the Leamside Line to be reopened. We raised the issue in Parliament back in 2017, and called for investment again last year when the Government announced its ‘Restoring Your Railways Ideas Fund’.
“It is disappointing that the Government have so far failed to act and invest in the line, or the rest of our crumbling railway network. Washington is one of the largest towns in the country without a railway link, and we really need to see investment in public transport serving the town.
"Re-opening the full length of the Leamside line could also provide a new direct rail link between Sunderland and Durham city centres that would be great for reducing traffic on the overcrowded A690.”