Mayor vows to extend Tyne & Wear Metro to Washington after £8m Leamside Line boost

The Leamside Line is a disused railway running from Pelaw in Gateshead, to Tursdale in County Durham. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

North East mayor Kim McGuinness will pump more than £8 million into efforts to finally bring the Tyne and Wear Metro to Washington.

Huge plans to expand the Metro network could see it extend from its current endpoint in South Hylton through to Washington, the fourth biggest town in the UK without a railway station, then onto Follingsby and rejoin at Pelaw.

The massive project would use the northern section of the mothballed Leamside Line, the restoration of which has been hailed as the single most important infrastructure upgrade needed across the North East.

While the opening of a ‘Washington Metro Loop’ is still years away and is expected to cost an estimated £745 million, the proposals are now set to take a key step forward.

On a visit to the site of the disused Leamside Line on Wednesday 10 July, the mayor told transport officials that the reopening of the railways was a top priority for her.

Ms McGunniess said: “I pledged in my manifesto to bring the Metro to Washington and that’s exactly what we will do.

“It’s clear to see that reopening the Leamside Line will allow us to reconnect our isolated communities to the Metro and local rail network which will be transformative for local people.”

“For too long we’ve been held back by a lack of national funding to kick start our infrastructure. That won’t happen under my watch. We want to build the greenest and best-connect transport network in the UK so it’s time to get to work.”

How a Washington loop of the Tyne and Wear Metro could look. Credit: NECA

The reopening of the Leamside Line is being planned in three phases:

  • The ‘Washington Metro Loop’ – using the northern section of the Leamside Line to be Metro from Gateshead to Washington, connecting with South Hylton.

  • ‘Leamside South’ – the southern section of the line connecting Washington and Sun to the East Coast Main Line rail link.

  • Ferryhill Station in County Durham – which would connect on to Teesside.

A report will be presented to the North East Combined Authority’s Cabinet in July which recommends that £8.6 million be allocated to develop business cases for the Leamside Line – including the Metro extension to Washington.

Subject to Cabinet approval, £8million will be used to develop an outline a business case, which will be prepared by Nexus.

A further £600,000 will be then used in the next phase - commissioning a strategic outline case.

Cathy Massarella, managing director at Nexus, said: “The Washington Metro Loop will be truly transformative, enhancing access to employment opportunities, education, and healthcare."

Talks on the reopening of the Leamside Line has unified support from local communities, cross-party politicians and the business community – but remains unfunded.

“It’s been 60 years since passenger services stopped running on the Leamside Line and we can’t wait 60 more before our communities get the connections they desperately need," Ms McGuinness added.

It is believed that the Washington Metro Loop would benefit the region - with it alone generating around £90 million per year, replacing 1.7 million car journeys a year, and reducing carbon emissions by 87,000 tonnes annually.

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