Richard Holden, Member of Parliament for North West Durham, has welcomed the news from the Rail Minister following the bid he and the other MPs submitted, supported by Durham County Council and The Auckland Project earlier this year.
The Feasibility Study will examine the overall scheme and extending commuter services from Darlington to Stanhope (from the current terminal at Bishop Auckland), in addition to:
- Creating a “Crook Spur” – extending the line along the old track bed to the bottom of Crook via Howden-le- Wear
- Creating an extension to the line further up Weardale along the old track bed past Eastgate
- The potential for freight services and greater freight use of the line.
The acceptance of the bid means that the Department of Transport will provide £50,000 towards the Feasibility Study, which amounts to c. 75% of the cost.
This successful feasibility study bid follows on from Richard Holden MP’s successful feasibility study bid of enhanced walking and cycling facilities as well as options for public transport between Consett and The Tyne, which will be published later this year.
Richard Holden, Member of Parliament for North West Durham, said: “After years of poor connections, it’s vital that we do what we can to level up the access for people in our area to education and employment opportunities right across the North East.
“This proposal, backed by The Auckland Project and our local councils will examine the feasibility of re-opening the line beyond Bishop right into the heart of Weardale.
“I believe that this line has the potential would be a huge boost for local businesses, employment and educational opportunities and would increase tourism in our local areas – all of which would help to level up North West Durham and the wider North East.”
Paul Howell, Member of Parliament for Sedgefield, said:
“I am delighted to see progress on this proposal, in particular as the opportunity increases the focus on the Aycliffe levels where Locomotion 1 passed the site of Heighington station and of where the closed Locomotion pub stands. I hope that this initiative can incorporate the reopening of this historic building as a key part of the 2025 celebrations.”
Dehenna Davison, Member of Parliament for Bishop Auckland, said:
“Opening up The Weardale Line beyond Bishop Auckland would help transform Bishop into the hub we all want it to be. This feasibility study is a massive step in the right direction, building upon my great work with the Towns Fund and Auckland Project to level up the towns Labour left behind.”
Peter Gibson, Member of Parliament for Darlington, said:
“As we build back better and outline what levelling up means, this opportunity to improve transport infrastructure will level up the lives of local peoples work study and leisure options both in Darlington and throughout Weardale.”