COUNTY Durham and Darlington MPs have lauded the potential reopening of a historic railway as a key contributor to levelling up the North East.  

The Government has confirmed it will launch a feasibility study to examine re-opening the Weardale Railway - part of a line which originally ran from Bishop Auckland to Wearhead along a distance of 25 miles.

The feasibility study will examine the overall scheme and extending commuter services from Darlington to Stanhope (from the current terminal at Bishop Auckland), in addition to:

  • Creating a “Crook Spur” – extending the line along the old track bed to the bottom of Crook via Howden-le- Wear
  • Creating an extension to the line further up Weardale along the old track bed past Eastgate
  • The potential for freight services and greater freight use of the line
  • The acceptance of the bid means that the Department of Transport will provide £50,000 towards the Feasibility Study, which amounts to 75 per cent of the cost.

The Northern Echo: Weardale RailwayWeardale Railway

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Richard Holden, MP for North West Durham, welcomed the news following the bid he and the other MPs submitted, supported by Durham County Council and The Auckland Project earlier this year.

“After years of poor connections, it’s vital that we do what we can to level up the access for people in our area to education and employment opportunities right across the North East," he said. 

“I believe that this line has the potential would be a huge boost for local businesses, employment and educational opportunities and would increase tourism in our local areas – all of which would help to level up North West Durham and the wider North East.”

Dehenna Davison, Bishop Auckland MP, said: “Opening up The Weardale Line beyond Bishop Auckland would help transform Bishop into the hub we all want it to be.

"This feasibility study is a massive step in the right direction, building upon my great work with the Towns Fund and Auckland Project to level up the towns Labour left behind.”

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Paul Howell, Member of Parliament for Sedgefield, said: “I am delighted to see progress on this proposal, in particular as the opportunity increases the focus on the Aycliffe levels where Locomotion 1 passed the site of Heighington station and of where the closed Locomotion pub stands.

"I hope that this initiative can incorporate the reopening of this historic building as a key part of the 2025 celebrations.”

Peter Gibson, Member of Parliament for Darlington, added: “As we build back better and outline what levelling up means, this opportunity to improve transport infrastructure will level up the lives of local peoples work study and leisure options both in Darlington and throughout Weardale.”

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