SINCE being elected in 2019, one of my continual points of focus has been railways. It started with engagement with Hitachi in my first week and then concentrated on the need to reintroduce local commuter connections through places like Ferryhill.

These two strands have been worked in parallel but with different approaches.

For Hitachi, it has been about supporting them in their bid for the contract to build the HS2 rolling stock. This has meant ongoing engagement with ministers about the skills and commitment of the Aycliffe-based team and also working with colleagues around the country, from Crewe to south Derbyshire, as the Hitachi bid is jointly with Bombardier.

This process is approaching its conclusion and I very much hope that all the efforts will deliver a fantastic outcome for Newton Aycliffe. It will be a massive boost and a huge vote of confidence in the local team.

The work on Ferryhill station has been different in that it has been driven along with the full engagement of local people as we look to take advantage of the Restoring Your Railways Fund introduced by the Government.

There has long been a link between the aspirations for a new station at Ferryhill and for the Leamside line to reopen, but we took the decision to separate them and pursue them as two objectives.

This separation has led us to a situation that while Leamside, because of its scale and complexity, is still looking for funding, the station at Ferryhill continues to progress. I hope for a positive announcement in the not too distant future.

The station will link the communities of Ferryhill, Bishop Middleham and Cornforth to the jobs and opportunities in the Tees Valley and the coastal towns of Redcar and Whitby for leisure.

The delivery of Ferryhill station will then become another reason for the Leamside line to be built rather than a costly reason for it not to be.

Just like when it was announced that the Treasury was coming to Darlington the Labour leader called it “giving up”, I see my predecessor as Sedgefield MP says that linking Ferryhill to Teesside would create “a station to nowhere” and a “white elephant” (Echo, Dec 4). Maybe that's why neither he nor his predecessor did anything at all to deliver this hope and opportunity for the people of Ferryhill.

From what I can tell, he mentioned the Leamside line more times in his column last week than either he or his predecessor did in all their years in Westminster!

I am working with Sharon Hodgson, the MP for Washington and Sunderland West, to push for the Leamside line as I believe it is a key component to improve the capacity of the East Coast Main Line, but it is not a make or break for the Ferryhill project.

It is a massive frustration when people who had your job try to tell you how to do the things they could have done but failed to deliver when they had the chance. I will continue to work for my communities alongside anyone who wants to work with me and I will not be diverted by those who just want to destructively criticise.