Richard Holden MP has given crucial sign-off for the next stage of the “Restoring Your Railway” bid as the Strategic Overview Business Case (SOBC) is submitted to the Department of Transport.

The plan for the Weardale Railway’s next stage, could see passenger services returned on the 31-mile stretch of the Weardale to Darlington railway line.

Since his election to Parliament in 2019, Richard has led calls to improve transport connectivity in his constituency, supporting the initial feasibility study and securing a debate in Parliament last November. In April, the Department of Transport signed off a £50,000 bid by Richard for the feasibility study.

The “Restoring your Railway” fund requires that projects are supported by the local MP and plans cannot progress without their sign off.  Richard has been keen to ensure that the project gets the widest possible support and has been delighted that, following the success of the project at the feasibility study stage, local Conservative MPs Dehenna Davison, Peter Gibson, Paul Howell, as well as the Tees Valley Combined Authority Mayor Ben Houchen, have backed him in fully endorsing the Business Case for the next stage.

If the project moves to this next stage, then a detailed business case would examine the project in full and come up with a plan to take the project forward. If successful after that, the project would then move to a design level before then seeking capital funding.

Commenting, Richard said

“My constituents deserve the same access via public transport to employment, education and leisure activities as people in the rest of the country. That’s why one of my key pledges at the general election was to push for better public transport options, including restoring rail connections across North West Durham.

“Having been successful in the Restoring Your Railway bid at the first stage of the process, I am now keen to progress this project to the next stage which would involve a full, detailed analysis of proposal ahead of a design stage.

“I will continue to campaign for better public transport links across my constituency and push hard to see our connectivity levelled up. To this end, I am delighted to have the support of so many colleagues in making the case for investment in North West Durham .”

Commenting, David Maddan, CEO of The Auckland Project said:

“The Weardale Railway Restore your Railway bid to the Department of Transport is being submitted at the end of August. The bid is supported by MPs Richard Holden, Dehenna Davison, Paul Howell and Peter Gibson, through whose constituencies the line runs, in addition to Ben Houchen, Mayor of Tees Valley Combined Authority. The bid has received widespread support from the Weardale community and, if successful, will end up with passenger trains linking up 19,000 people to services, education and employment opportunities all the way to Darlington, the Tees Valley, Weardale and beyond.”

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