Washington and Houghton being let down as towns left out of railway re-opening fund
By Carlton West
Liberal Democrats have slammed local MPs and Sunderland Council for failing residents in Washington and Houghton-le-Spring as funding announced to re-open disused railway lines failed to include bringing trains back to the towns.
Yesterday (23rd May) the Government's Department for Transport announced £500,000 for feasibility studies into re-opening railway lines and stations that were closed in the 1960s as part of the infamous Beeching cuts.
Ten projects were awarded money from the 'Restoring Your Railways Ideas Fund'.
Re-opening the former Leamside railway line between Sunderland, Washington, Penshaw, Rainton and Pelaw failed to be awarded funding as part of the initiative.
Opposition Lib Dem campaigners on Wearside reacted with fury, slamming local MPs and Sunderland City Council for failing people in Washington and Houghton by not persuading the Government to commit money to a study on re-opening the Leamside railway line.
Commenting, Washington Lib Dems spokesperson Carlton West said:
"Residents in all parts of Houghton, Washington and west Sunderland pay their taxes like everyone else but have had to put up with sub-standard transport links for decades.
"Re-opening the full length of the Leamside line could provide new direct rail links between Sunderland, Washington, the Houghton area and up to Pelaw and Newcastle which would transform the economy of our communities.
"But if we are ever to see Metros or Northern Rail services brought back, there needs to be political will. Sadly, this seems to be completely lacking. Our local MPs and the City Council should be beating down the door of Transport Ministers and refusing to shut up about this in Parliament.
"I'm not sure if it is because they are complacent and don't care, or whether they are inept and ineffective at making the case for investment in our area. Whatever the reason, if our representatives fail to convince the Transport bosses that they should allocate money to draw up a plan to re-open the Leamside line they will never be forgiven.
"Local Liberal Democrats are determined to keep up the pressure on the Government to maximise our chances of bringing rail services to as many parts of Wearside as possible."