AN MP has launched a campaign to look at reopening a railway to link a rural community to a main line.

Richard Holden MP for North West Durham has started a campaign to have the Weardale railway extended to is original length.

The Weardale Railway was part of a line which originally ran from Bishop Auckland to Wearhead along a distance of 25 miles.

The Wearhead line opened in 1895 and helped serve the communities in Upper Weardale.

Freight service to Eastgate ceased operations in 1992 and in 1993 the heritage rail service was started.

The Weardale Railway Preservation Society (WRPS)was formed in 1993, and its supporters have campaigned for its preservation and potential for reopening.

Weardale railway is now a major tourist attraction in the area and was bought by The Auckland Project in 2020.

With this purchase came the possibility of a link to the main line at Darlington, as well as attracting more regional and national visitors to the area.

Mr Holden is now working to support The Auckland Project, who are working on the Towns Fund bid in Bishop Auckland, intending to reinvigorate the region.

Mr Holden is putting forward a bid to look at reopening the Weardale line with a branch spur to Crook via Howden-le-Wear as a passenger service.

While much of the old line into the centre of Crook has been built over, the line to the south side of the town through Howden-le-Wear is clear, which would allow a service to be built.

Mr Holden is also keen to ensure enhanced cycling and walking facilities in the dale.

Bus services will be improved as well, particularly later in the evening to better connect Crook, Tow Law and Willington with the City of Durham and with Darlington.

Mr Holden is also excited to see what the National Bus Strategy, due within the next few months will bring.

This latest campaign follows Mr Holden’s successful campaign to get a feasibility study done for the Consett-Tyne project.

Mr Holden said: “I am delighted to announce the launch of my new campaign to look at reopening the Weardale line as both a passenger and freight railway.

"This would be a huge boost for local businesses, employment and educational opportunities and would increase tourism in our local area.

“I am very grateful to the Auckland Project for the work they have already done in this area so far and very much look forward to working with them on this project.

"I have launched a survey about the railway and local travel on my website and I encourage local residents to complete it.

“This is part of my wider campaign to level up transport in North West Durham and I will be pushing Government Ministers and my Parliamentary colleagues to give our area the support it deserves.”