A North East MP and Government minister says he is “really interested” in plans to reopen the Leamside Line – but will not commit to funding it yet.

Richard Holden, the Tory MP for North West Durham and the minister for local transport, has declined to match a Labour Party promise to restore the mothballed railway line.

Restoring the disused route, which runs between Pelaw in Gateshead and Tursdale in County Durham, has been among the top aims of regional leaders for years and Labour’s shadow transport secretary confirmed last week that her party would deliver the project if in power.

Putting trains back on the Leamside Line would allow for a new loop of the Tyne and Wear Metro to be built, taking the network to Washington, and could also free up space to run more services on the congested East Coast Main Line.

But concerns have been aired by Conservatives about the cost of the scheme, with the extension of the Metro alone costing an estimated £745m and only using part of the line.

Asked at the unveiling of the new Metro trains on Friday whether the Government would commit to bringing the Leamside Line back into use, Mr Holden told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “When Labour tell us how they will find the money to do it then I will be all onside with it. What I am really interested in is having a look at it.

“We have a study going on at the moment and it is going to be reporting in the next few weeks on the benefit to cost ratio of that.

“But I would say judge us by what we have done already. We have £362m coming in for these new trains now, we have seen the improvements on the A1 already [in Newcastle], the A1 at Birtley is going ahead, you have seen improvements on the A19 with over £100m there as well, you have the Blyth to Ashington line again with over £100m of investment into transport the North East.

“If I can get cash here and it works for taxpayers then I will get it here, but it has to be on that best benefit to cost ratio. I want the money to go where it is best used in our local and regional transport network and I will make sure it happens wherever I can.”

After Labour transport chief Louise Haigh reaffirmed to build the vast Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) project, which includes Leamside, in its entirety while in Newcastle last week, she was accused by one local Tory of a “shameless attempt to buy votes”.

Sedgefield MP Paul Howell, who has been a vocal supporter of the Leamside reopening, claimed that Labour’s “sums just don’t stack up”.

During his visit to the Metro depot in Gosforth on Friday, Mr Holden was also tight-lipped about the future of plans to dual the A1 in Northumberland.

An already-delayed Government decision on whether to proceed with the upgrading of the key route on a 13-mile section from Morpeth to Ellingham was due last December, but was pushed back again by a further nine months.

Mr Holden said: “Whenever there is investment to be had for the North East, I will fight for it. But we have to wait for that Development Consent Order at the moment while it is going through that legal process.”