WITH news that the Leamside line could be reopened under new 'financial mechanisms' available to North East leaders, we take a look at the communities that could benefit if the historical rail link was resurrected.

MPs, local politicians and business leaders across the North East met this morning (February 4) at multiple locations along the line to make the case for why the vital piece of infrastructure should be restored. 

The meeting saw Paul Howell MP for Sedgefield and Sharon Hodgson MP for Washington and Sunderland West, meet with transport bosses at Ferryhill, Follingsby and Washington to discuss the benefits it would bring to each area.

Read more: Leamside line hopes still remain after business and leaders meet

Under new proposals, it was confirmed during today's meeting that funding opportunities would be explored to "pull out all of the stops" and turn the Leamside line from a pipe dream into a reality. 

This includes devolution and Levelling Up deals for County Durham and Tyne and Wear, and may also incorporate parts of Sunderland.

As the finer details are yet to be ironed out, and it's a long way to go until any concrete deal is signed, The Northern Echo has created an interactive map of the Leamside line and how it could connect some communities directly for the first time in 30 years.

Here's a map of the Leamside line and where it will run through:

The rail route, a 21 mile stretch from Gateshead, through South Tyneside, Washington and County Durham, has been closed since 1992.

Already, the three locations that are being pinpointed are Ferryhill, Follingsby and Washington, but it was also revealed by transport chiefs at the meeting today that further stations to link 'economic zones' would also be created. 

Here's the indicative plan of where the stations will be, according to Transport North East:

The Northern Echo:

Speaking to The Northern Echo earlier today, Paul Howell, MP for Sedgefield, hopes that the Leamside line reopening in the future could lead to a 'snowball' effect for Ferryhill and surrounding areas.

He said: "This part of County Durham has the least number of car ownerships per person, and that means that people heavily rely on public transport. 

The Northern Echo: Paul Howell, MP for Sedgefield.Paul Howell, MP for Sedgefield.

"If we can get the right balance of correct public transport, it will bring jobs, education and other vital benefits to communities like Ferryhill."

He wasn't the only one who was optimistic of reopening the rail link earlier today.

The Northern Echo: Henri Murison, director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership.Henri Murison, director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership.

Henri Murison, director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, highlighted how keen he is to "level the playing field" for those in Ferryhill and bring the same opportunities for people living there, compared to those in Newcastle.

He said: "It's not fair that the people of Ferryhill are becoming further disadvantaged by not having opportunities because of a factor out of their control. All this is telling us is that people have to move out of Ferryhill to get the jobs and education opportunities. 

"The Leamside line is about creating public transport that is fit for purpose and can actually deliver, and get people to where employment opportunities are."

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