MP launches petition calling for full reopening of Washington's train line
A Sunderland MP is urging people to sign up and show their support for plans to reopen the mothballed Leamside rail line.
Transport chiefs in the region have been campaigning for years to see the line reopened in order to take pressure off the East Coast Mainline and pave the way for the extension of the Metro network into Washington and County Durham.
But concerns have been raised over an alternative proposal, known as Leamside South, which the North East Combined Authority says threatens other plans, including a rail link between Washington and Pelaw.
Now Washington and Sunderland West MP Sharon Hodgson has launched a petition to bolster campaign efforts to re-open the route.
The petition calls on the Government to re-open the railway line in full, to bring back rail to Washington.
Mrs Hodgson said Washington had not had a passenger rail service since 1963, and was the largest town in England without a rail link, despite its growing population of 70,000.
"The Government is considering opening part of the Leamside Line near Durham to ease the strain on the East Coast Main Line,” she said.
“It would be ludicrous to open part of the rail line, and for it to not reach this part of Wearside, missing the opportunity to bring rail back to Washington."
Mrs Hodgson said she had been campaigning for 15 years to bring the Metro to Washington, with a new rail link connecting the town to County Durham and the rest of Tyne and Wear promising ‘significant connectivity and economic benefits’.
"There is no doubting the transformational opportunities a rail link could bring, and now is the time to press the Government,” she said.
"I am, therefore, calling on my constituents and residents across Tyne and Wear to add their voice to this campaign by signing this petition to bring back rail to Washington."
The petition will be collecting signatures across February, to be brought to Parliament in early Spring before the Government announces its Integrated Rail Plan.
It can be signed by visiting https://sharonhodgson.laboursites.org/reopen_rail_petition/