AN MP says he is "hopeful" that funding will be announced shortly for a £98m project to alter a railway station to improve connections across the Tees Valley.

The business case for improvements to Darlington railway station was submitted to the Government last week.

Yesterday, representatives from the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, rail industry leaders and politicians met in Darlington to discuss the proposals, which is aimed at improving connectivity across the Tees Valley, as well as prepare the station for the future arrival of HS2.

The meeting was arranged ahead of an expected decision on whether to go ahead with the HS2 high speed rail line, which could be made by the Government next week.

Darlington MP Peter Gibson said: "I am banging the drum for extra funding at every opportunity. There isn't a business minister that I haven't collared and spoken to about this. No-one has said it is a bad idea or that they don't think funding will come for it.

"I'm hopeful we will get an announcement soon but I'm not in a position to commit to that . But I will continue to bang the drum.

"We need to sell the story to the public of what this investment means. It's not just an extra platform, it's about opening up all of the Tees Valley

He added: "The fact that some of these seats have never had a Conservative MP before has made a lot of people sit up and listen.

"We have been given a tremendous amount of attention so we are talking about the things we need and are being listened to in a way these places in the North have not been listened to before."

Henri Murison, director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, who chaired the meeting, said he was pressing the Government to invest £11m in 29 new trains for the region when Northern Rail is renationalised next month.

He said: "We have been told they can make them in Wales. The Government can choose to do it or we will be getting the worst diesel trains that are left when the pacers are gone."

Councillor Heather Scott, leader of Darlington Borough Council and transport lead for the Tees Valley Combined Authority, said she had asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer for more devolved funding for transport at a meeting this week.

She said: "We have asked for transport funding to be devolved to the Tees Valley. It was interesting most of the metro mayors are asking for the same thing.

"I appreciate the support we have for Darlington station."

She added: "It's extremely important for the Tees Valley and the development the mayor Ben Houchen wants for the Tees Valley area.

"It's extremely important for connectivity."

The changes to the station would make it quicker for trains passing through on the east coast mainline, and make it possible to schedule more local services connecting County Durham and the Tees Valley.

Jonathan Spruce, director of Fore Consulting, who helped put the business case together said: " "It makes Darlington fit for purpose in the 21st century.

"As the birthplace of the railway, we want to make it fit for purpose."