A North East railway line that was earmarked for reopening using funding reallocated from HS2 will only reopen if local leaders choose to fund it, despite apparent promises yesterday.

Just yesterday (October 4) a government document listed the line through County Durham as one of the projects to be completed with funds from a scrapped HS2 link from Birmingham to Manchester.

The document said "The Leamside Line, closed in 1964, will also be reopened," but by Thursday (October 5) morning the commitment had been removed from the plans.

Now, a statement from the Department for Transport has advised that "local leaders [can fund] the Leamside Line if they choose to," using the £1.8 billion allocated to the North East following the scrapping of the second leg of HS2. 

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A Government spokesperson said: “We are funding a new Ferryhill Station, and providing around £1.8 billion funding to the North East – an investment only possible due to the billions of pounds redirected from HS2.

“This investment will empower local leaders to fund the transport projects that matter most to their communities – including funding for the Leamside Line if they choose to.

“We are working closely with Transport North East as they work on the business case for the re-opening of the Leamside Line.”

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The 21-mile route runs between Pelaw, Gateshead and Tursdale, County Durham. It fell victim to the Beeching cuts of the 1960s which saw thousands of stations and miles of track taken out of use across the country.

Campaigners have long said reopening the route - which runs from Gateshead, through Washington, Penshaw, Fencehouses, West Rainton, Belmont and Shincliffe to Ferryhill - could increase capacity on the ECML and open up opportunities for a £745m extension of the Tyne and Wear Metro, bringing a huge economic boost to the region.

The campaign to restore services has been backed by cross-party MPs including Conservative Sedgefield MP Paul Howell and Washington and Sunderland West MP Sharon Hodgson.