Reopening the Leamside Line has been removed from the initial list of projects for Rishi Sunak’s Network North programme just 24 hours after the announcement.
The Leamside Line, which runs from Pelaw in Gateshead to Tursdale in County Durham, closed to passenger traffic in 1964 under the Beeching cuts.
On Wednesday it was announced that reopening the line would be a part of the initial list of ‘Network North’ project, which the Prime Minister announced would take the place of the Northern leg of HS2 at a conference in Manchester on Wednesday.
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However, just 24 hours later, reference to reopening the Leamside Line has been removed from the Network North website, the Northern Echo reported.
Transport Minister Richard Holden told Local Democracy Reporting Service on Thursday that the government is now only “committed to looking into it.”
Labour’s North East mayoral candidate Kim McGuinness said of the news: “Shocking but not surprising.”
He said he would seek urgent clarification.
Update: A Government spokesperson said: “We are funding a new Ferryhill Station, and providing around £1.8 billion funding to the North East – an investment only possible due to the billions of pounds redirected from HS2.
“This investment will empower local leaders to fund the transport projects that matter most to their communities – including funding for the Leamside Line if they choose to.
“We are working closely with Transport North East as they work on the business case for the re-opening of the Leamside Line.”
Kevan Jones, Labour MP for North Durham, said: “‘It’s a clear demonstration that the PM’s speech was his usual spin and not a long-term plan for Britain.
“Voters in the North East aren’t fools and will see through his cynical attempt to give the impression that he and the Conservatives care about the North.”