£8million to draw up business case for reopening Leamside Line - and bringing the Metro to Washington

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Bringing the Metro to Washington and more stations across Sunderland has moved a step closer with the announcement of more than £8milion to draw up the case to take to Whitehall.

Announcing the funding plans, North East Mayor Kim McGuinness renewed her call for the Government to re-open the rest of the Leamside Line.

On a visit to the part of the disused line at Follingsby today, Wednesday, July 10, the Mayor said reopening the route was a top priority for her.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

A report will be presented to the North East Combined Authority’s Cabinet in July recommending that £8.6 million be allocated to develop business cases for reopening the Leamside Line - including the Metro extension to Washington - part of a string of new investments in transport.

sn

“I pledged in my manifesto to bring the Metro to Washington and that’s exactly what we will do,” said Ms McGuinness, who was in London for a Metropolitan Mayors’ meeting with new PM Sir Keir Starmer yesterday.

“It’s clear to see that re-opening the Leamside Line will allow us to reconnect our isolated communities to the Metro and local rail network which will be transformative for local people.

“For too long we’ve been held back by a lack of national funding to kick start our infrastructure. That won’t happen under my watch. We want to build the greenest and best-connected transport network in the UK so it’s time to get to work.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
Nexus

The reopening of the Leamside Line is being planned in three phases:

• the ‘Washington Metro Loop’ - using the northern section of the Leamside Line to bring the Metro from Gateshead to Washington, connecting with South Hylton’

• ‘Leamside South’ - the southern section of the line connecting Washington and Sunderland to the East Coast Main Line (ECML) rail link;

• A Ferryhill Station in County Durham - which would connect on to Teesside.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Subject to Cabinet approval, £8million will be used to develop an Outline Business Case for the Washington Metro Loop – a major project which will provide full information on proposed stops and stations, economic impact data and estimated costings.

sn

The business case is being prepared by Metro operatio Nexus and will be completed by spring 2026.

A further £0.6million will be used to commission a new Strategic Outline Case for the next phase - Leamside South - marking another new milestone and further progress towards the line’s re-opening.

It is estimated the Washington Metro Loop alone would generate at least £90million per year in economic benefits for the region, replacing 1.7million car journeys a year and reducing carbon emissions by 87,000 tonnes annually.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Leamside South runs parallel to the East Coast Mainline and was previously used as a diversionary route.

There are hopes it could be again, removing slow-moving freight trains from the congested national link and significantly freeing up much-needed capacity.

“It’s been 60 years since passenger services stopped running on the Leamside Line and we can’t wait 60 more before our communities get the connections they desperately need,” said Ms McGuinness.

“We will get to work on the detailed business cases for Leamside Line projects, while I continue to press for funding, both national and local

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Reopening the Line will allow us to extend the Metro to Washington - the fourth largest town in the UK without a direct rail line - and to connect communities with poor public transport links like Fence Houses in Tyne and Wear and Ferryhill in County Durham.

“It will also free up the East Coast Main Line by diverting slower freight trains onto the Leamside Line – this would allow our national rail services to grow for the benefit of the entire country.

“Walking along the line today you get a real feel for its potential - with stops, stations and park and ride sites in the future connecting even more of our communities to major employment sites and education and training opportunities.

“High quality integrated transport is a priority for me and I’ll make sure we fund the first stage locally to get this moving at speed.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Cllr Martin Gannon is the North East Joint Authority’s lead on transport: “Efforts to re-open the Leamside Line have gone from strength to strength over the last 12 months and I’m pleased that we will be putting forward the funding needed to get the important business case work under way,” he said.

“This marks the biggest funding award to date for the Leamside Line project which, of course, includes extending the Metro to Washington.

“The Mayor and Cabinet are unified in this ambition and we are determined to deliver this major strategic priority for the region.

“The Mayor will fight for our region to secure the funding we desperately need to re-open the Leamside Line and I look forward to supporting her on this vital project.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Nexus managing director Cathy Massarella added: “The Washington Metro Loop will be truly transformative, enhancing access to employment opportunities, education, healthcare and leisure activities for the people of Washington.

“This funding will enable Nexus to develop a detailed business case and marks a really positive step forward in the project.”

Related topics:

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.