New Washington Metro Loop 'would be worth £90 million a year to North East economy' - IF it ever gets the green light from travel bosses
A new Metro line linking Washington to Sunderland and Newcastle could be worth an extra £90 million to the North East economy.
Known as the ‘Washington Metro Loop’, the project – which would see a new Metro connection from Pelaw to South Hylton via Washington, with stations proposed in Follingsby, Washington North and Washington South – forms part of a wider project to reopen the disused Leamside Line in full.
The Business Case, which is part funded by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership and Transport North East, says the line would:
*Generate £90 million per year in economic benefits to the region
*Create nearly 8 million extra passenger journeys a year
*Reduce carbon emissions by nearly 87,000 tonnes a year by replacing nearly 1.7million car journeys annually – the equivalent of over half a million trees each year
*Give Washington - the fourth largest town without access to a rail service - new connections to Newcastle, Sunderland and Newcastle Airport.
The group forecasts the Loop will cost £745 million in total, including the cost of new Metro trains to support extra services on the line.
Washington and Sunderland West MP Sharon Hodgson MP has been campaigning to reopen the Leamside Line for 17 years and believes the case is growing increasingly strong.
“Washington is the fourth largest town in the UK not to be connected to a rail network,” she said.
"The people of Washington and Sunderland deserve access to high quality transport to aid economic growth and job prosperity not only within Washington but also across the region.
"The new Washington Metro Loop will do just that, and I am delighted that we are one step closer to re-opening the Leamside Line in full.”
Martin Gannon, chairman of the North East Joint Transport Committee and leader of Gateshead Council, said: “Successive governments have committed to the delivery of Northern Powerhouse Rail in full and that includes reopening the Leamside Line.
"The North East is united in one voice and our message to the Government is clear – the Leamside Line is a win for the North East, a win for the UK and a win for this Government.
“The Washington Metro Loop is a strategically important development for the area and I would urge the Government to come to the table and work with us to deliver this project.
North East of England Chamber of Commerce chairman John Marshall said reopening the Leamside Line would drastically increase capacity on the region's railways.
"The reopening of the Leamside Line and, in particular, this second phase, is strategically important to the growth of new and existing businesses within the region,” he said.
"The Washington Metro Loop provides new business and local people with additional links to the International Advanced Manufacturing Park and Follingsby Park as well as vital access to labour markets within the wider North East including the major development at Port of Tyne – a gateway for regional growth, development and transformation.”