The North East Joint Transport Committee will discuss the development of a £ 100,000 Strategic Business Case (SOBC) for the South of Tyne and Wearside Loop project.
If approved by the committee on Tuesday January 18, the SOBC will be developed with funding of £ 70,000 from the North East Local Enterprise Partnership and £ 30,000 from Transport North East resources.
The move is an important step towards reopening the disused Leamside Line to bring the metro to Washington – the UK’s fourth largest city without direct rail access – and create a new link to South Tyneside,
Sunderland City Council Chief Coun Graeme Miller explained the reason for extending the light rail system to the new city: “Alongside residents and businesses, and as Washington City Councilor and Head of city council, I am very aware of how our city needs a better transport deal.
“Expansion and investment in our rail and metro network is helping us create a more vibrant, healthy and vibrant city and region, fit for the 21st century.
“Working together and building this business case for the Leamside line is part of how improving public transportation is delivering benefits.
Boris Johnson criticized the failure to reopen the Leamside rail line
“In addition to bringing Metro to Washington, if the line is fully reopened, it could offer faster connections from Sunderland to London, Leeds and Manchester via connections with the East Coast Main Line at Tursdale.
“Our regional spending on public transport is about a third of what it is in London, investing in Leamside is a key factor in how we are changing that.”
The South Tyne and Wearside Loop would use the north end of the disused Leamside Line to bring the metro via Follingsby to Washington, over the Wear River over the Victoria Viaduct, then connect with another disused railway line to South Hylton.
Subsequent phases would also have a direct route from Follingsby to Hebburn, using a bridge over the existing railway line in the Pelaw area, allowing South Tyneside to be connected to the new service.
The work of coordinating various studies on the use of the Leamside Line continued and they will be brought together into a single cohesive plan known as the “Umbrella Case Analysis Strategic Plan”.
This work is nearing completion and will be included in a report to the Joint Transport Committee later this year.
Councilor Martin Gannon, Chairman of the North East Joint Transport Committee, said: “The development of the business case for the Tyne and Wearside South Loop is great news for regional connectivity and shows just how Leamside line is central to our regional transportation. ambitions.
“We’ve heard time and time again how much people want to expand Metro and bring it to Washington in particular, so I’m delighted that we’re taking this important step.
“This project is a key ambition in the Northeast Transportation Plan and I’m sure it will be well received by many, including Washington residents and the local business community. Better connectivity is great news for everyone in the North East. “