Parliament debates Metro lines

South Shields bound Metro Train
South Shields bound Metro Train

MPs have called for more investment and an expansion to the Metro network during a House of Commons debate.

Bridget Phillipson, MP for Houghton and Sunderland South, wants the system to be extended to Doxford International Business Park.

Speaking during a debate in Parliament on the Tyne and Wear Metro, secured by South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck, Bridget stressed the importance of ensuring the planned extension went ahead to local people and businesses.

The proposals, which were included in a report entitled Metro Strategy 2030 published last year by the Tyne and Wear Passenger Transport Executive Nexus, would lead to the construction of a new Metro line from South Shields to Doxford via the centre of Sunderland.

Other proposed extensions include the re-opening of the Leamside Line through Washington and operations to connect Gateshead town centre with the Metrocentre and Team Valley.

Bridget said: “The proposed extensions include a new line that would run from Doxford to Sunderland city centre and beyond. This would transform the area, giving local people rapid access to other parts of the region and allowing local businesses to grow and create jobs.

“If the government is serious about creating a so-called Northern Powerhouse in the north east it must invest to create a truly integrated transport network.”

Meanwhile, Julie Elliott, MP for Sunderland Central, called on the government to start talks with Nexus about investment in a new fleet of trains and urged the Chancellor to use the Budget on July 8 to divert more money to North East transport.

She said: “The Metro fleet began carrying passengers in 1980. They are currently undergoing their third refurbishment, which will extend their life expectancy to around 2025. A further refurbishment is simply not cost effective.

“By the middle of the next decade, the trains will represent a fifty-year-old technology, with all the problems that go with that, including low levels of reliability, energy efficiency and poor compliance with accessibility legislation. New trains are therefore critical to boosting punctuality and preparing for the predicted higher passenger numbers.

“If the Northern Powerhouse is to amount to anything more than a vanity project for the Chancellor, he needs to put his money where his mouth is and use the Budget next week to direct extra money into public transport in our region.”