North East MPs have been campaigning for the reopening of the Leamside rail line today (4 February).
Campaigners say that as a consequence of reinstating the line, it will create more jobs, housing and have positive environmental benefits as hundreds of cars each day will be off the region's main commuter roads.
The meeting today between MPs, businesses and local leaders is ahead of a debate in Westminster on the reopening of the Leamside Line on Tuesday 8 February.
Sharon Hodgson, Labour MP for Washington and Sunderland West, says that this would "tick every box for the levelling up agenda"
What is the Leamside line?
The rail route, which is a 21-mile stretch, from Gateshead, through South Tyneside, Sunderland and County Durham.
It was left out of the Government's recent Integrated Rail Plan (IRP) due to the high cost of the scheme.The line has been closed since 1992.
Paul Howell MP, who is a long-time supporter of the line, said reopening the line would be "truly transformational for the North East."
Cllr Martin Gannon, Chair of the North East Joint Transport Committee, said: “The Leamside Line is one of our top priorities and its reopening would change the socio-economic future of the North East.
“Places like Follingsby, Washington and Ferryhill are crying out for direct rail connectivity, and we must continue to call for investment in this critical piece of railway infrastructure.
Lesley Moody, President of North East England Chamber of Commerce said: “Re-opening the Leamside Line would improve rail journeys for 1,000s of passengers each day and create more much-needed capacity to move both passengers and goods by rail across the North East."
Lucy Winskell, Chair of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said: “The reintroduction of passenger services along this line would not only open up vital transport links for communities in the surrounding areas and give increased access to employment and leisure opportunities, it is also part of a wider solution to speed up journey times on the East Coast Main Line, linking the North East to the rest of the UK rail network."