North East transport chiefs send Christmas ‘wish-list’ to Government

The body responsible for transport in the North East has sent its Christmas ‘wish-list’ to the Government urging ministers to move transport in the region forward.

Councillor Martin Gannon, Chair of the North East Joint Transport Committee and Leader of Gateshead Council, has written to the Secretary of State for Transport seeking his support on priorities including economic growth, climate change and improving air quality.

In his letter to Grant Shapps MP, Cllr Gannon said: “We would appreciate early confirmation of your support for our bold and ambitious bid to the Government’s Transforming Cities fund, as the work to start delivering infrastructure schemes needs to begin.

“We also await urgent news of the Government funding for a new fleet of Metro trains so that we can promise a bright future to the system’s long-suffering passengers and employees.”

Mr Gannon goes on to list a number of other matters he wants to bring to the Government’s attention including;

  • urgent investment needed in the East Coast Main Line,
  • overdue confirmation of ongoing revenue and capital finding streams for the Metro;
  • proposals to expand the reach of the Metro;
  • the need to accelerate the delivery of low-emissions buses;
  • the Joint Transport Committee plan to take devolved responsibility for local rail services;
  • keeping the region at the forefront on electric vehicle technology.

In July, the North East submitted a £377m bid to the Department for Transport to transform the way people travel around the region.

The transforming cities bid, if successful, will be the cornerstone of a £448m programme of investment up to 2023 made up of five key themes:

  • £82.9 million invested in 16 miles of improvements to bus corridors into and through town and city centres, with high quality priority measures to deliver consistent journey times.
  • £59.1 million to transform 29 miles of cycle and walking routes as well as cycle parking around town and city centres and major destinations including Metrocentre and Newcastle International Airport.
  • £55.9 million to upgrade key gateway rail stations including a new terminal building and parking at Sunderland, major improvements to access in and around Newcastle Central station and better access to Durham station.
  • £15.6 million to build new and larger park and ride sites for bus and Metro in Durham, Gateshead and north of Newcastle, as well as modernising payment.
  • £234.5 million to provide a new passenger rail line between Ashington, Blyth and Newcastle, and to deliver the Metro Flow Project to increase frequency, cut journey times and unlock future expansion of the network.

The programme was drawn up through extensive work by the region’s seven local authorities and transport executive Nexus alongside private sector partners, major developers, academic institutions, walking and cycling groups and public transport operators.

An announcement on the outcome is expected in early 2020.