A further £8.6 million pounds is set to be allocated to develop plans to reinvigorate a mothballed North East railway line as mayor Kim McGuinness affirms the development could "transform" the region's transport.

The Tyne and Wear Metro could stretch to Washington if proposals, which are set to be presented in 2026 by Nexus, get the green light as part of a plan to bring the Leamside Line back to life.

The first stage of proposals, named the 'Washington Metro Loop' would link the town, which is one of the largest in the country without rail access, to Sunderland, Newcastle and beyond.

North East Mayor Kim McGuinness.North East Mayor Kim McGuinness. (Image: NORTH EAST COMBINED AUTHORITY)

A report will be presented to the North East Combined Authority’s Cabinet in July in which £8.6million is recommended to be allocated to develop business cases for the Leamside Line.

£8 million is set to be awarded for the Washington development, and a further £600,000 will be allocated to develop plans for the southern part of the line to County Durham - which was earlier this year given £350,000 by the Department for Transport (DfT). 

The line, which stretches down to Ferryhill in County Durham, was last used by passengers in the 1960s and by freight in the 1990s but has since been disused.

Announcing the news at a section of the line in Follingsby, north of Concord, North East Mayor Kim McGuinness, said: “I pledged in my manifesto to bring the Metro to Washington and that’s exactly what we will do.

“It’s clear to see that re-opening the Leamside Line will allow us to reconnect our isolated communities to the Metro and local rail network which will be transformative for local people.

“For too long we’ve been held back by a lack of national funding to kick start our infrastructure. That won’t happen under my watch.

“We want to build the greenest and best-connected transport network in the UK so it’s time to get to work.”

She later told The Northern Echo: “This is a long term project - but, this £8.6 million investment shows how committed we are to deliver trains on this to Washington and in the longer term, down to Ferryhill.

“This is not just about transport, it's about the infrastructure opportunities. Creating jobs, bringing money in to our region - nothing less than £90 million a year, but I suspect it's much more than that.”

This update comes months after in October the Leamside Line was included under former Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's Network North programme - but left campaigners and MPs shocked after it was dropped just 24 hours later.

Since then, MPs, business leaders and more have been lobbying to press the case for the Leamside Line and secure the future of the project that has an estimated price tag of £1bn.


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Cathy Massarella, Managing Director at Nexus, added: “The Washington Metro Loop will be truly transformative, enhancing access to employment opportunities, education, healthcare and leisure activities for the people of Washington.

“This funding will enable Nexus to develop a detailed business case and marks a really positive step forward in the project.”

Should the project go ahead, it has not yet been revealed when the line would open.