Extra Metro stations in South Tyneside and new Shields Ferry vessels step closer as leaders finalise £6billion transport plan

More Metro stations, new ferries and an upgrade of the A19 are among ways people in South Tyneside will benefit if a £6billion transport wishlist comes true.

By Daniel Holland
Tuesday, 19th January 2021, 12:53 pm
New Metro carriages are on their way, and they could be stopping at more destinations in South Tyneside if a £6billion transport plan is approved

North East leaders will soon finalise a £6 billion vision to reverse “shocking” underinvestment in the region’s transport infrastructure.

The North East Transport Plan, first revealed last November, features almost 300 schemes that it is hoped can be delivered over the next 15 years and create or sustain 100,000 jobs – if the government agrees to fund it.

That wishlist includes multiple extensions to the Tyne and Wear Metro, more electric vehicle charging points, major upgrades to the A1 and A19, and the reopening of the Leamside and Newcastle-Northumberland railway lines.

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New Metro stations at Mill Lane in Hebburn and in the Boldon area are on the cards, along with new vessels for the Shields Ferry.

Refurbished interchanges in Gateshead and Heworth are also proposed.

Around 3,400 people have now had their say on the proposal, after an eight-week consultation that ended last week, and North East politicians say it is vital to combating a “stark imbalance” with other areas – especially London.

However, some have claimed that the giant plans are still not ambitious enough, with environmental activists labelling the proposals “business as usual” and calling for more radical thinking to promote walking, cycling, and public transport over car use.

And just last week, one of the region’s key transport ambitions was dealt a major blow – with the government removing more than £100 million of funding for contactless smart ticketing systems across the North.

Alistair Ford, of the Tyne and Wear Public Transport Users Group, said: “We know that to enable people to leave the car at home those alternatives have to be made more attractive by investing in infrastructure, by providing integrated tickets between bus, Metro, and rail services, and even increasing car parking costs to help subsidise sustainable transport.

“It’s sad to see that some of these things are missing and others aren’t planned until the 2030s, which is far too late.”

While the estimated cost of the 296 projects included in the initial draft of the plan totals £6.1 billion, that figure is expected to grow even higher as more schemes are added over time.

A revised version of the strategy taking into account the thousands of feedback comments is now due to be presented on March 16.

Gateshead Council leader Martin Gannon, chair of the North East Joint Transport Committee, said: “Historically the North East has seen shocking levels of transport spend per head when we compare this to other areas of the country. This plan shows how, if we’re able to achieve a similar level of spend per head, we will be able to resolve this stark imbalance and lead a green transport revolution for the North East.

“Throughout the consultation, we’ve seen very clearly just how passionate people are about public transport, walking and cycling, our road network and more, and I want to personally thank everyone for getting involved and providing their feedback as we look to shape the final plan this Spring.”

Analysis by IPPR North suggests that in 2019, planned government spending on transport in London was £3,636 per person – seven times more than the £519 per head in the North East.

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