LABOUR Party leadership candidate Keir Starmer will today slam the Tory government for what he describes as a "decade of failure" on Tees Valley transport infrastructure.

Ten years ago, proposals for a Tees Valley Metro system were cancelled by the Coalition Government – after being given the green light from the outgoing Labour government.

To mitigate the cut, the government said it would improve journey times via rail services provided by Northern Rail.

Last month the government stripped Northern Rail of its franchise after years of failing services – a government-run operation is set to come in to place next month.

Northern Rail commuters hailed the announcement as "long overdue" and "good news," while others questioned whether problems would be solved.

Labour have said that the Tees Valley Metro would have provided a faster and more frequent service across the area.

Mr Starmer is calling for the new Chancellor – Richmond MP Rishi Sunak – to use the opportunity of next month’s budget to sort this issue and give the Tees Valley the infrastructure it needs.

Mr Starmer said: “No part of the country should be left without functioning transport infrastructure. But that’s exactly what huge swathes outside of the South-East face.

“The Tees Valley Metro was cancelled ten years ago – but the Tories have done nothing to replace it. That’s ten years without decent transport, and only a failing Northern Rail service to rely on.

"The Government needs to match their rhetoric about Northern transport with action. They’ve had a decade and done nothing. Another future is possible where the country has decent public transport infrastructure – but not with this Tory government.”

The Tees Valley Metro was a project to upgrade the Tees Valley Line and sections of the Esk Valley Line and Durham Coast Line to provide a faster and more frequent service.

It had two parts to it, first to run heavy rail mostly along existing alignments and later to introduce tram-trains to allow street running.

The project was backed by all the local authorities through which the system would have run – Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland and Stockton.

Ben Houchen, Mayor for Tees Valley, said: “If Keir Starmer had visited Teesside and paid any attention to what was going on, he would know we are spending £257.7m to improve all forms of transport across the region, whether it be on roads, the railways, in the air or on buses.

“This includes £25m for the redevelopment of Darlington Station, £20m to upgrade Middlesbrough Station and I brought our airport back into public ownership and saved it from closure.

"I recently announced a host of new routes that connect Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool to all for corners of the UK as well as Ireland. Plus, the first holiday flights in five years, and the first flights to Spain in seven years have returned to our airport.”

Mr Houchen also said he had recently signed off to improve of Hartlepool, Billingham, Eaglescliffe Station and install a pedestrian and cyclist bridge in Wynyard.