“Chaotic” East Coast Mainline decision ‘strengthens case’ for Leamside Line

A North East council boss has claimed delays on changes to the timetable on the East Coast Mainline make the case for reopening the Leamside Line even stronger.

Gateshead Council Leader, Coun Martin Gannon called the situation “chaotic” at a meeting of the North East Joint Transport Committee on Tuesday. It comes after Network Rail shelved controversial plans to increase the number of fast services between London and Newcastle due to unresolved issues.

While the extra fast services were welcomed, there was concern in Durham and Northumberland due to the fact that a lack of capacity on the region’s rail networks meant that several smaller stations would see fewer trains stopping. Coun Gannon felt reopening the Leamside Line would provide the necessary boost to the North East’s rail capacity.

Speaking at Tuesday’s meeting, he said: “It is chaotic, it is disastrous, it is incompetent. We now have a situation where the lack of capacity in the North East is having a disastrous economic impact on the whole country.

“It is impossible to put on three services an hour from London to Edinburgh because there is not enough capacity in the North East. The one thing it does do is make the case stronger than it has ever been for investment in the East Coast Mainline and the case for reopening the Leamside Line.

“If there was ever a stronger case to invest in the Leamside Line, it has just been made.”

Restoration of the disused rail route from Pelaw in Gateshead to Tursdale in County Durham is considered a top priority for the region’s leaders. However, it has been at the centre of a political row in recent months.

It was initially included among a number of pledges the Government made after scrapping HS2’s northern leg back in October. However, that promise was subsequently dropped within 24 hours, with the Department for Transport stating that the project “could” be part-funded from the pot of cash given to the incoming North East Mayor. The scheme to reopen the Leamside Line is expected to cost well over £1 billion.

In March, the Government confirmed it would be awarding the region £350,000 to progress a new “strategic outline case for the southern section of the route running from Washington to Ferryhill. At the time, Coun Gannon said the Government funding was a “welcome contribution”.

View news Source: https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/leamside-line-east-coast-mainline-29012231

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