The Leamside Line: This proposal would re-establish a railway on the Leamside Line between Ferryhill (on ECML) to Pelaw on Durham Coast line (21 miles). The track has been lifted but the alignment is still in place and protected from development. Passenger services on the south end of tine were withdrawn in 1941 leaving only 2 stations open. Their services were effectively withdrawn in 1963 with the final closure to passengers in 1964. The line remained open for coal traffic, and use as a diversionary route, until 1981 as the Durham Coalfield slowly closed. At the height of its operations the line had stations at Usworth, Washington, Penshaw, Fencehouses, Leamside, Sherburn, and Shincliffe. The North East Combined Authority (NECA) has approved ambitious plans to create a joined-up rail and Metro network The strategy, approved by NECA on 19 July 2016, identifies a network of disused or under-used rail routes across the region which could benefit from new or better services. NECA says it can connect Belmont in Durham with Fencehouses, Penshaw, Sunderland, South Hylton via a 3-mile extension of the Tyne and Wear Metro, Washington, Pelaw, South Shields again by using connections with the Tyne and Wear Metro and Newcastle. In addition to these plans RFNE are campaigning for a new station to be built at Ferryhill. The revived line would free up capacity on ECML by providing alternative freight route, that could also be used as a diversionary route for passenger services. In addition, the re-opening would open up the option of a new local rail service (typically York or Middlesbrough to Newcastle) offering a whole range of new connections and opening up opportunities to access a wider range of jobs to people living in this part of the former Durham Coalfield.
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