On Monday evening, Richard Holden MP secured a debate in Parliament on the Weardale Railway. He had done so in advance of and without knowledge of the fact the that Chancellor would announce that the feasibility bid for the project would be successful in the budget! The feasibility study will take a year or so to complete, if the one Richard has secured looking at improved cycling, walking and disabled access plus public transport options between Consett and The Tyne is anything to go by. The Auckland Project and the Weardale Railway Trust are already looking at the Heritage aspects of the current line, but this is a much broader bid looking at the potential of reconnecting the line + Crook and Howden-Le-Wear to the national rail network + re-instating the line further up the dale. Obviously, the feasibility study will help determine which parts of the project are viable.
Richard has campaigned on this issue since he was elected, alongside local Crook Councillors Mike Currah and Patricia Jopling because he thinks that renewing the railway line, alongside improving cycling and walking opportunities near it, could be transformational for Weardale and Crook.
Richard Holden MP said:
"Our area was neglected by Labour for far too long. I want to 'Level Up' and connect Weardale, Howden-Le-Wear, and Crook and provide access to greater opportunities to access both work and education opportunities for local people, and provide non-vehicle access to our local heritage, tourism and hospitality sector to more people who want to visit. The recent exploratory work regarding the potential for Lithium in Weardale only adds to the potential.
"The superb work over the years of the Weardale Railway Trust and the recent purchase of the line by The Auckland Project, who are fully behind looking at options for the future with the support of Durham County Council, Ben Houchen and all the Members of Parliament along the line is very welcome and provides a good base for the next steps.
"I am fully aware that there are some naysayers - I hope in time more of them will come over when the see the potential of the project to really help ensure that Weardale remains a place where local people can live and work in and from - the working, living dale that it always has been and I hope will always be."