WE have consistently argued that our region does not do enough to celebrate its proud railway heritage.

The Stockton and Darlington Railway became the world’s first passenger railway when it was opened in 1825, but while the National Railway Museums in York and Shildon are leading tourist centres, and the Head of Steam in Darlington is another popular attraction, there is further scope to use Tees Valley’s railway history to create jobs and investment.

Therefore, we wholeheartedly support the decision to commit £20m to the creation of new rail attractions in Darlington.

The funding, which was announced this weekend, forms part of Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen’s campaign to “transform the Tees Valley”, and will see the creation of a “world-class visitor centre” to “tell the stories of the pioneers and inventors of the Stockton and Darlington Railway”.

Darlington Borough Council has pledged to consult with the local community to help shape the plans for the project, and we would urge as many people as possible to get involved.

The development is scheduled to open in 2025, which will mark the 200th anniversary of the Stockton and Darlington Railway’s inception.

It will form the centre-piece of a range of celebratory events that should make a significant contribution to the regional economy.

Two hundred years ago, we were at the forefront of railway development. Two centuries on, we can use our proud railway heritage to help drive further economic progress.