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North East receives £500m railway funding

Tyne and Wear Metro © Shutterstock

Rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris has announced that the government will fund £500 million of improvements to rail services in the North East.

The government said it would invest £337 million to bring new trains to the Tyne and Wear Metro line, which will provide more comfortable seating and better information for passengers. 

Northumberland County Council’s project to reopen the Ashington-Blyth-Tyne line, which closed in 1963 during the Beeching cuts, will receive a £1.5 million investment from the Department for Transport.   

The cuts, which were proposed by British Rail chief Dr Richard Beeching, ended passenger services on around a third of the rail network, closing more than 2,300 stations and up to 5,000 miles of track across the UK. 

The government will also provide £250,000 in funding to redevelop Middlesbrough Station, which will be matched by the Tees Valley Combined Authority. The investment would enable the station to accommodate longer and more frequent trains for passengers. 

Heaton-Harris said: “We are committed to reinvigorating rail connections across the North East, improving access to jobs, leisure and education across the region.

“Levelling up the North is a priority for this government. This investment – to reconnect isolated communities, improve stations and deliver new trains – shows that we are putting our money where our mouth is.”

The government’s reversal scheme will fund a further £1.5 million for the Ashington-Blyth-Tyne Line in Northumberland, the Fleetwood line in Lancashire, and an Ideas Fund. 

The Ideas Fund has received £300,000. It aims to encourage innovative ideas that can be considered for further funding in the future. 

Transport secretary Grant Shapps, said: ”Many communities still live with the scars that came from the closure of their local railway more than five decades ago. [This announcement] sees work begin to undo the damage of the Beeching cuts by restoring local railways and stations to their former glory.

“Investing in transport links is essential to levelling up access to opportunities across the country, ensuring our regions are better connected, local economies flourish and more than half a century of isolation is undone.”

The government’s New Stations Fund has resulted in 10 new stations across England and Wales from two previous rounds. The new round will receive £20 million.

Image credit | Shutterstock