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Reopening of Leamside rail line

Volume 691: debated on Monday 15 March 2021

The petition of residents of the constituency of Washington and Sunderland West,

Declares that petitioners support the reopening of the Leamside rail line in full as the town of Washington needs a rail link; further that the rail line will bring economic and connectivity benefits for the North East; and further that it will bring infrastructure benefits for the East Coast Main Line.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Government to ensure that the forthcoming Integrated Rail Plan allows for the re-opening of the Leamside Line in full and the re-introduction of rail services to Washington; to recognise the support of a forthcoming Restoring Your Railways bid to promote this; and calls on the Secretary of State for Transport to consider this proposal.

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Mrs Sharon Hodgson, Official Report, 3 March 2021; Vol. 690, c. 356 .]


Observations from The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Chris Heaton-Harris):

We are currently awaiting the completion of the integrated rail plan for the north and midlands (IRP) to help develop a comprehensive strategy for the East Coast Mainline (ECML). The IRP will look at how best to deliver High Speed 2 Phase 2b, Northern Powerhouse Rail and other Network Rail programmes, and consider how the schemes can work together alongside wider transport investment for the north and midlands to ensure people see the benefits of better services quicker. Once published, this will inform the Department's planning for the long- term future of the ECML, including options concerning the prospective reopening of the Leamside Line.

The Government announced in January 2020 that they have pledged £500 million for the restoring your railway fund to start reopening lines and stations, reconnecting smaller communities, regenerating local economies and improving access to jobs, homes and education. It includes an ideas fund for those schemes that are in an early stage of development and need to explore the options for solving a transport problem.

I thank the residents of Washington and Sunderland West for expressing their support for this proposal, as local support is an important factor in getting rail schemes off the ground. The Department for Transport will consider the bid made to the third round of the ideas fund and announce outcomes in Summer 2021.

Department officials will continue their engagement with local stakeholders as this work progresses.