NORTH East MPs have reacted in anger after a proposal to reinstate a mothballed railway line was unsuccessful with achieving funding. 

The plan would have seen the Leamside Line reinstated between County Durham and Pelaw and allow local train services to return to places like Washington for the first time in decades, while also paving the way for a major extension of the Tyne and Wear Metro and increased rail freight capacity.

City of Durham MP Mary Foy and North Durham MP Kevan Jones teamed up with Ian Mearns MP (Gateshead), Bridget Phillipson MP (Houghton and Sunderland South), Kate Osborne MP (Jarrow), Sharon Hodgson MP (Washington and Sunderland West) and Sedgefield's Conservative MP Paul Howell. 

But the group were told were told by Transport Minister Chris Heaton-Harris that despite the project demonstrating “good potential in terms of transport and socio-economic benefits, the overall cost of the re-instatement (circa £600m) remains prohibitive”.

The refusal has lead to some of the MPs accusing the Government's "Levelling Up" slogan as 'a hollow buzzword' and criticised the lack of funding in the region. 

Read more: County Durham MPs praise Government backing into reopening Weardale Railway

Earlier this year North East MPs, Council Leaders and major North East businesses and employers signed a letter coordinated by the North East England Chamber of Commerce imploring the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to reverse decades of underinvestment in the North East and to reinstate the line as part of wider investment in rail in the region, including upgrades to the East Coast Mainline and the full northern completion of HS2.

However, despite the region being currently being unable to create more rail services an hour due to existing rail lines being at full capacity, the Government has decided against this project stating that “There are currently no further Ideas Fund rounds planned for the foreseeable future”.

Mary Foy MP slammed the Government for ignoring the "transformative investment" in the region. 

“The North East has long been held back by chronic underinvestment in rail infrastructure," she said. "Our railways are at capacity, we cannot grow or improve connectivity without investment in the Leamside line.

"Reinstating the Leamside Line would have been a truly transformative investment, unshackling our region from ageing and neglected infrastructure, generating much needed economic growth, and radically improving connectivity between communities in our region and the wider country.

"With the pressing need to achieve Net Zero carbon emissions, this project would not only level up the North East, it would also have radically improved local rail connections, getting cars off the road and linking our communities to education and employment.

"Therefore, It is incredibly frustrating that the Government have chosen to recognise the unmistakable benefits of the scheme yet still decline to take it further due to a cost of 600 million.

"That our region is not considered worthy of an investment that size when much larger projects have been given the green light in south over recent decades is insulting to our people.

"The Conservative Government’s decision to overlook major investment in our region highlights once more that levelling up remains a hollow buzzword."

Ian Mearns MP for Gateshead said: “I'm incredibly disappointed yet unsurprised that, once again, the North East misses out on the urgent funding required to transform our dilapidated, unreliable and unaffordable public transport system."

Kate Osborne MP for Jarrow added: “This is extremely disappointing but not surprising coming from an out of touch Conservative Government. Re-establishing this line would’ve been transformative for our local communities.

“Our region has been starved of investment in rail infrastructure for many years and this is yet another kick in the teeth from the Tories down in Westminster."

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