THE Tyne and Wear Metro could be extended to run along a newly-reopened Leamside line, the boss of transport group Nexus has suggested.

Bernard Garner, director general of Nexus, which owns and runs the Metro, said the 21-mile long Leamside line offered a “clear opportunity”

to extend the system.

Mr Garner also said it was easily possible to run Metro trains on the same track as heavy freight and passenger trains.

The Leamside line, which runs between Pelaw, near Gateshead, and Tursdale, near Ferryhill, County Durham, was mothballed in 1992, but has never officially been shut by Network Rail.

However, to date it has not been persuaded of a business case to re-open the route.

Mr Garner, whose proposals are contained within a report to the Tyne and Wear Integrated Transport Authority, said the Metro could be extended from its southern most point at South Hylton, near Sunderland, running parallel to the River Wear, before eventually joining the Leamside line just outside Penshaw.

It would then run to Fatfield, in Washington, before re-joining the Metro system at Pelaw.

Separately, Nissan has already expressed an interest in Leamside to connect its Washington plant to the Port of Tyne.

However, one obvious sticking point is the cost of re-opening the route, thought to be about £60m upwards.

Mr Garner says that Government funding would be needed to make anything happen.