WHETHER you are a fan of HS2 or not, Rishi Sunak’s announcement at the party conference was unequivocally good news for the North East. In simple terms, as a result of the scrapping of the northern leg of HS2, more than £1bn of extra funding is coming our way, resulting in the North East having a total new allocation of more than £1.8bn and the Tees Valley almost £1bn to spend on transport.

The reaction to this, and the reporting of it, has completely underplayed its significance because it has largely focused on a change to the wording of a page on the Government website.

This page initially said that the Leamside line, which ran from Ferryhill Station in my constituency north to Tyneside, would be reopened by the new money when, in fact, this funding is enough to reopen the line but it will now go to North East politicians – specifically the forthcoming mayor – to choose how to spend it.

The new mayor of County Durham, Tyneside, Wearside and Northumberland could decide to use it elsewhere, but that would be their choice – and I, for one, would be extremely disappointed if it was not spent on the line which has cross-party support.

This extra funding has done precisely what I and, indeed, Labour MPs have called for: it has given the money to the North East to let us get on with things. This surely what we want – more money allocated to us to decide how we spend it, and this was confirmed by Transport Secretary Mark Harper in Wednesday’s debate in the Commons.

Unfortunately, there is no way the Labour Party could accept that something good has been delivered by a Tory government, so their spin machine has been on full cycle – and that was reflected in the headlines in Thursday’s papers, even in The Northern Echo.

Yet, with the money now in place, we are closer than ever to the line being reopened.

But the good news doesn’t end there. The same announcement by the Prime Minister confirmed that Ferryhill Station will now definitely go ahead.

I spent a large part of my childhood in Ferryhill and, as its population is now 10,000 people, I know that the town will really flourish with this improved transport link.

This is such an exciting moment, given that thousands of jobs are now being attracted to Teesside by the freeport and other exciting initiatives like the Tees Valley multi-modal hydrogen transport hub. These have the potential to support 18,000 and 3,900 jobs respectively, and the station offers a unique opportunity for the Ferryhill area to link directly in to them.

Partnered with the potential long-term reinstatement of the Leamside Line, Ferryhill station will be part of a new Tyne-Tees connection, seeing rail services continue all the way up to Newcastle.

The improved rail connectivity will also encourage a shift from road to public transport, helping to reduce congestion and our environmental impact.

So although you probably won’t have seen this is on social media or in the papers, I really believe this is great news for our region and, like all train stories, one that is long overdue. It heralds a new epoch in our region’s transport Infrastructure story and I am humbled to have played a part in securing this vital inheritance for our children’s future.

Full steam ahead!