AN MP has hosted the Minister of State for Transport in North West Durham.

Richard Holden MP for North West Durham welcomed the Rail and ‘Active Transport’ (Walking and Cycling) Minister Chris Heaton-Harris to Wolsingham station to promote ambitious extension plans.

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

Now, the line has become a heritage railway, the Weardale Railway, which closed last year but has been taken over by The Auckland Project.

Mr Holden has launched a campaign to look at reopening a link to Crook which closed in the 1960s, via Howden-le-Wear and enhanced walking and cycling routes.

Mr Holden hosted Mr Heaton-Harris at Wolsingham Station, and they were joined by Conservative councillor candidates Steve Cowie and Will Wearmouth and The Auckland Project Chief Executive, David Madden.

They discussed transport in North West Durham and the wider North East, as well as Mr Holden’s campaigns for both the Weardale Line and the Consett-Tyne Rail Link and how these could be a huge boost for the local economy, tourism and educational and job opportunities. They also discussed the Levelling Up agenda.

Mr Holden, Member of Parliament for North West Durham, said: “It was a real pleasure to host The Minister in North West Durham to discuss a number of issues, including Levelling Up agenda and, my campaigns to improve transport in North West Durham.

“Chris is really supportive of the campaigns I am working on and, I was delighted to be able to show him the now closed Wolsingham Station and the closed Weardale Line.

“It is possible to reopen these lines as its part of our levelling up agenda.

“A lot of money is put into other parts of the country with new trains and stations, too long has the community in North West Durham been left out.

"These projects will take time, but we are beginning to lay the foundations.

"We want people who pay their taxes to get their fair share of services.

“My campaign to reopen the Weardale Line is part of my broader work on improving transport in North West Durham, and I want to see communities’ benefit from better bus links, better rail links, and improvements to our roads as well as proper and improved cycling and walking routes."

Mr Heaton-Harris said: “So many of our communities have been cut off by the Beeching cuts and now we want to level the region up.

“The plans are ambitious, and it may take many years but there is so much potential. That is why we’re going to see massive investment in the North East.

"There's many areas from Consett to Ferryhill that we are looking into improving."