Cross-party North East politicians and regional business leaders have come together to call upon the Government to invest in North East infrastructure by supporting the re-development of a new Metro extension in the region.

The move comes as Transport North East publishes the first step in production of a Business Case, for approval by the North East Joint Transport Committee (JTC), for a new Metro connection from Pelaw to South Hylton via Washington, with new stations proposed in Follingsby, Washington North and Washington South.

Known as the ‘Washington Metro Loop”, the proposed new line forms part of a wider project to re-open the Leamside Line in full, with work already underway with the development of the new Ferryhill station in County Durham.

The Business Case, which is part funded by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (NELEP) and Transport North East, builds on previous engineering feasibility and demand forecasting work undertaken as part of the wider suite of corridor studies funded through the Joint Transport Committee.

It is predicted that the new Metro line will:

  • • generate over £90m per year in economic benefits to the region. Each Metro taken in the region generates £11.80 for the economy
  • • create nearly 8m additional passenger journeys a year
  • • reduce carbon emissions by nearly 87,000 tonnes a year by replacing nearly 1.7m car journeys per year – the equivalent of over half a million trees each year
  • • give Washington – the fourth largest town without access to a rail service – new connections to Newcastle, Sunderland and Newcastle Airport

The Business Case forecasts that the new Washington Metro Loop will cost £745m to deliver, which includes additional new Metro trains to support extra services on the line. The cost equates to under 1% of the overall Government commitment to the Integrated Rail Plan for the North, which has a total cost of commitment of £96 billion across the UK.

Speaking about the positive impact the new Washington Metro Loop will have on her constituency, MP for Washington and Sunderland West Sharon Hodgson MP said “I have championed the re-opening of the Leamside Line for over 17 years, so to see a new business case submitted to the Joint Transport Committee for a new Metro line connecting Gateshead, Washington and Sunderland is a huge step forward.

“Washington is the fourth largest town in the UK not to be connected to a rail network. The people of Washington and Sunderland deserve access to high quality transport to aid

economic growth and job prosperity not only within Washington but also across the region. The new Washington Metro Loop will do just that, and I am delighted that we are one step closer to re-opening the Leamside Line in full.”