A STUDY is looking into the possibility of a disused railway line being reopened to connect Nissan directly to the Port of Tyne.

On the day Nissan announced plans for its new battery factory, it emerged research was being carried out to provide its Sunderland plants with better rail access.

If the Leamside rail line was reopened between Pelaw and Washington, it would allow Nissan to directly freight cars and materials by train between its plant and the port.

A spokesman for regional development agency One North East, said: “Work is under way to look at the feasibility of partially reopening the Leamside rail line to improve accessibility for inbound materials and outbound finished products. This work will assess the practicality and affordability of reinstating part of the line between Pelaw junction and Washington.”

Rachel Lowe, of Network Rail, said: “This is clearly exciting news for the North-East, and we would be happy to discuss any aspirations for the Leamside line which arise out of it.

“However, any reopening of the line would need to prove a business case and would require substantial funding, neither of which is available at present.”

Ross Smith, head of policy at the North- East Chamber of Commerce, said: “It is absolutely critical for the North-East to be well connected internationally.

“In order to do that we need to have really good access to our ports and airports.

“If the Leamside line can provide businesses, or in this case, Nissan, with a link to the Port of Tyne it could be an important contribution.

“Funding for transport projects is tight so we need to look carefully.

“But connecting with ports and airports should be considered a very high priority.”