A cross-party group of politicians and regional business leaders in the North East have urged the Government to support the re-development of a new Metro extension in the region.
Transport North East has published the first step in production of a Business Case, for approval by the North East Joint Transport Committee (JTC), for a new Metro connection from Pelaw to South Hylton via Washington, with new stations proposed in Follingsby, Washington North and Washington South.
Known as the ‘Washington Metro Loop”, the proposed line forms part of a wider project to re-open the Leamside Line in full, with work already underway with the development of the new Ferryhill station in County Durham.
The Business Case, which is part funded by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (NELEP) and Transport North East, builds on previous engineering feasibility and demand forecasting work undertaken as part of the wider suite of corridor studies funded through the Joint Transport Committee.
According to the Business case, the new Metro line would:
• Generate over £90m per year in economic benefits to the region. Each Metro taken in the region generates £11.80 for the economy
• Create nearly 8m additional passenger journeys a year
• Reduce carbon emissions by nearly 87,000 tonnes a year by replacing nearly 1.7m car journeys per year – the equivalent of over half a million trees each year
• Give Washington – the fourth largest town without access to a rail service – new connections to Newcastle, Sunderland and Newcastle Airport
The Business Case forecasts that the new Washington Metro Loop will cost £745m to deliver, which includes new Metro trains to support extra services on the line. The cost equates to under 1% of the overall Government commitment to the Integrated Rail Plan for the North, which has a total cost of commitment of £96bn across the UK.
MP for Washington and Sunderland West Sharon Hodgson MP said: “I have championed the re-opening of the Leamside Line for over 17 years, so to see a new business case submitted to the Joint Transport Committee for a new Metro line connecting Gateshead, Washington and Sunderland is a huge step forward.
“Washington is the fourth largest town in the UK not to be connected to a rail network. The people of Washington and Sunderland deserve access to high quality transport to aid economic growth and job prosperity not only within Washington but also across the region. The new Washington Metro Loop will do just that, and I am delighted that we are one step closer to re-opening the Leamside Line in full.”
MP for Sedgefield, Paul Howell MP said: “I welcome today’s news that a business case for the Washington Metro Loop has been submitted to the Joint Transport Committee. Work is already underway with the development of Ferryhill and the proposed development of the Washington Metro Loop at the north of the line will only further magnify the Government’s investment into the North East.
“The total cost of delivering the new Washington Metro Loop is under 1% of the overall Integrated Rail Plan budget and the economic benefits for the region and our people is huge, making this plan one that is good value for money and one that the Government should strongly maintain its commitment to as part of delivering Northern Powerhouse Rail in full.”
Chair of the North East Joint Transport Committee and Leader of Gateshead Council Martin Gannon said: “Successive governments have committed to the delivery of Northern Powerhouse Rail in full and that includes re-opening the Leamside Line. The North East is united in one voice and our message to the Government is clear – the Leamside Line is a win for the North East, a win for the UK and a win for this Government.
“The Washington Metro Loop is a strategically important development for the area and I would urge the Government to come to the table and work with us to deliver this project. It is hugely cost effective in comparison to other big rail projects recently completed in the south of England and forms a small part of the overall Integrated Rail Project for the North. As part of the levelling up agenda, the Government needs to ensure that the north receives its fair share of infrastructure benefit to ensure economic growth and prosperity in the region.”
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