North East leaders urge Government to invest in regional rail links

Author - Charlotte Johns

Date published:

A powerful group of North East business and political leaders has written to Government urging it to make investment in the East Coast Main Line an urgent priority.

The letter to the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps sets out the substantial economic advantages to improving capacity along the crowded route from Northallerton to Berwick.

Signed by James Ramsbotham, chief executive, North East England Chamber of Commerce on behalf of businesses, local authorities and Northern Powerhouse Partnerships, in the letter he said: “We are writing to you united to make the urgent case for investment in the East Coast Main Line as part of the Government’s Integrated Rail Plan. This funding will show that the Government truly is committed to investing in the North and the levelling up agenda as part of the recovery process.

We need HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail delivered, along with investment in regional links to tackle decades of underinvestment in the North East’s rail links.”

Capacity issues on the East Coast Main Line, which has only one track north, and one south are a key concern. The letter highlights how upgrades can be delivered through reinstating the Leamside line in full and upgrading the line between Northallerton and Norton and the Stillington line as land is already available on which to run new track. The letter also highlights the Durham Coast line and investment in local links connecting from the East Coast Main Line to the whole of the North East.

Councillor Martin Gannon, Chair of the North East Joint Transport Committee, said: “North East business and political leaders are fully united in this call for investment in the East Coast Main Line including the reopening of the Leamside Line in full. This is a crucial priority for our region and it is imperative that the government acts now.

“We urgently need to increase capacity on the East Coast Main Line which would deliver significant economic benefits across our region. As it stands, the East Coast Main Line is too slow and unreliable, and it simply doesn’t offer the capacity we need on this vital connection, now or in the future. As well as solving capacity constraints on the East Coast Main Line, a reopened Leamside Line could enable the introduction of local passenger services and extensions to the Metro, so its importance cannot be overstated.

“The North East Joint Transport Committee strongly urge Government to commit to upgrade the East Coast Main Line in the upcoming Integrated Rail Plan (IRP), including the full reopening of the Leamside Line. We continue to work closely with key partners to push for this long-overdue investment.”

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