£12.6million for Sunderland station redevelopment and more frequent Metro links set out in £377million transport wishlist for North East
Passengers, business bosses and the city’s politicians have long bemoaned the “depressing” state of Sunderland’s station and called for either a new facility or a radical overhaul of the existing site.
Cash towards redeveloping the station, together with more frequent Metro trains, a restored rail service between Newcastle and Northumberland, station redevelopments, and new cycling infrastructure are all also part of an ambitious campaign to secure a massive pot of Government cash.
The region’s leaders are set to give their backing to a bid to the Transforming Cities Fund (TCF) next week, which they say would be a massive boost to the local economy and reduce reliance on cars.
The North East – covering Northumberland, Tyne and Wear and County Durham – is one of 12 city regions shortlisted to submit bids for a share of £1.28billion of central funding.
And a draft version of a bid that will be put before council leaders next week, before being sent to the Department for Transport, reveals that the North East intends to ask for a maximum of £377.3million in funding.
That includes £108million to fund the twin tracking of the Metro between Pelaw and Tyne Dock – an upgrade that would allow for the daytime frequency of trains across the network to be increased from five to six per hour.
A further £99million would be set aside to restore passenger trains to the railway line running between Newcastle and Northumberland, via Ashington and Blyth.
New stations would be constructed at Ashington, Bedlington, Newsham and Northumberland Park, with the potential for more to be added in future.
There are also plans for £22.5million to help pay for transport hub upgrades in North Shields – including covered access between Metro and bus services, a new shopping and public realm area, a cycle hub, and better cycling and walking access to the interchange.
Major redevelopments are also planned at both Newcastle and Sunderland railway stations, which the potential TCF funding could be used to support.
Coun Martin Gannon, Gateshead Council leader and chairman of the North East Joint Transport Committee (NEJTC), said: “We are seeking to transform the way people travel around the North East because that unlocks access to jobs, training and opportunity and drives the whole economy.
“We have built an ambitious programme which reaches all parts of our region from Northumberland to Durham to put simple, sustainable, environmentally friendly travel at the heart of our plans for the North East’s future.
“Our final programme follows extensive engagement with businesses, developers and transport operators in the region. It ranges from smaller walking and cycling schemes to major upgrades to our rail network, but all focused on the key corridors people use to move around the North East.
“We believe we have a very strong case which reflects the importance transport will play in meeting the economic challenges of our region and we are sure the Government will take note of that.”
Other major schemes included in the list of 39 transport projects include:
£18.4million towards the redevelopment of Newcastle’s Central Station
£11million for bus route improvements from South Shields to Newcastle£12million for a series of works across Newcastle city centre, including better cycling lanes and bus stops
Enhanced park and ride provisions at Follingsby, Callerton, Holmeside, Sniperley, and a number of Metro stations
£4.25million towards the demolition and redevelopment of Durham bus station
Improved walking and cycling links into Durham city
Better walking and cycling routes connecting to Metro stations at Fawdon, Kingston Park, Byker, Four Lane Ends, Palmersville, Northumberland Park, Shiremoor, Whitley Bay, Chichester and Tyne Dock
New cycling infrastructure providing a link between the Coast Road Cycle Route to central Newcastle
A cycle route between Newcastle Airport, Callerton and Ponteland
NEJTC members will be asked next Tuesday to approve submission of the draft bid to the Government, before a final submission is made in November.
The bid includes high, medium, and low cost options – ranging from a minimum of £331.1m to £337.3m.
Government has indicated that all bidding city regions will discover what their cash allocation will be in early 2020, with the schemes that can be funded then delivered between 2020 and 2023.
The North East was awarded £10m in the first, much smaller, stage of the Transforming Cities Fund earlier this year.