SUNDERLAND City Council Leader Graeme Miller has backed a petition launched by local MP Sharon Hodgson to reopen the Leamside Line.
The petition, launched by the Washington and Sunderland West MP, calls on the Government to reopen the rail line through Washington which will help reconnect the town.
Cllr Graeme Miller told SR News: “Reopening the Leamside line in full, including the short spur to South Hylton, will allow Washington to be restored to the national and Metro networks [and give] Sunderland the potential of faster links to London, Leeds and Manchester via connections with the East Coast Main Line at Tursdale.
“This council is working closely with its transport partners across the region to bring more rail investment. Our communities have benefited from Metro extensions – socially and economically – and an expanded rail and Metro network can bring many more benefits.
“Government spending per head on public transport in Sunderland and across the North East is about a third of what it is in London, if we get this spending changed and increased investment there are many opportunities to transform our city’s transport links.”
He added: “I shall be signing the petition and would urge everyone else to do so.”
The Government is considering opening part of the Leamside Line in Durham to ease pressure on the East Coast Mainline, but the plans fall short of reconnecting Washington.
Sharon Hodgson MP, who is behind the petition, said: “It would be ludicrous to open part of the rail line, and for it to not reach this part of Wearside, missing the opportunity to bring rail back to Washington.
“There is no doubting the transformational opportunities a rail link could bring, and now is the time to press the Government. I am therefore calling on my constituents and residents across Tyne and Wear to add their voice to this campaign by signing this petition to bring back rail to Washington.”
The Leamside Line was closed in 1963, leaving Washington as the largest town in England without a rail link.
The petition, which is collecting signatures across February, can be signed at: https://sharonhodgson.laboursites.org/reopen_rail_petition/