Jarrow MP Kate Osborne challenges Prime Minister Boris Johnson at Prime Minister's Questions after plans to reopen Leamside rail line are rejected

A North East MP has clashed with Prime Minister Boris Johnson over the Government’s decision not to look into the restoration of the historic Leamside railway line.

Wednesday, 3rd November 2021, 3:41 pm

Jarrow MP Kate Osborne was one of a group members from the region asking for the £60million plan to go ahead.

The plan was aimed at seeing the line restored between County Durham and Pelaw in Gateshead, allowing local rail services to return to places including Washington for the first time in decades.

It was also intended that the initiative would include an extension of the Tyne and Wear Metro system, increased rail freight capacity and the re-use of the historic Victoria Viaduct which has stood idle since 1991.

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Boris Johnson and Kate Osborne clashed at Prime Minister's Questions.

Immediately before Ms Osborne’s exchange with Mr Johnson at PMQs, the Prime Minister confirmed to Darlington’s Conservative MP Peter Gibson that Darlington Station would be upgraded.

Ms Osborne then asked: “The Prime Minister has said he’s a fanatic of buses; but what about trains – and not just in Darlington – but the Leamside line?

“Because last Wednesday I was notified that a joint bid to reinstate the mothballed Leamside line had not been successful in attracting the next stage of the feasibility funding from the Government as part of the Restoring Your Railway Fund.

The 1838 Victoria Viaduct is a symbol of the campaign to restore the Leamside Line.

“So can I ask the Prime Minister; what specific plans does the Government have to invest in the North East in places like Gateshead and South Tyneside in my constituency?

"And when is he going to get serious about levelling up in our communities instead of just using the term as a meaningless, populist slogan?”

But Mr Johnson, without referring specifically to the Leamside Line, dismissed the suggestion that the region had missed out.

He replied: “The North East will be the beneficiary of the biggest investment in our rail infrastructure, beyond HS2, that we’ve seen for a century; about £96 billion more than we’re going to be putting in for.

“What we want is the local authorities, we want the regional authorities to work with us to ensure that we promote the projects that the people really want.”

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