A restored rail service between Newcastle and Northumberland, station redevelopments, new cycling infrastructure are all part of an ambitious campaign to secure a massive pot of Government cash.
The region’s leaders are set to give their backing to a bid to the Transforming Cities Fund (TCF) next week, which they say would be a massive boost to the local economy and reduce reliance on cars.
The North East – covering Northumberland, Tyne and Wear and County Durham – is one of 12 city regions shortlisted to submit bids for a share of £1.28bn of central funding.
And a draft version of a bid that will be put before council leaders next week, before being sent to the Department for Transport, reveals that the North East intends to ask for a maximum of £377.3m in funding.
A further £99m would be set aside to restore passenger trains to the railway line running between Newcastle and Northumberland, via Ashington and Blyth. New stations would be constructed at Ashington, Bedlington, Newsham and Northumberland Park, with the potential for more to be added in future.
Major redevelopments are also planned at both Newcastle and Sunderland railway stations, which the potential TCF funding could be used to support.
Coun Martin Gannon, Gateshead Council leader and chairman of the North East Joint Transport Committee (NEJTC), said: “We are seeking to transform the way people travel around the North East because that unlocks access to jobs, training and opportunity and drives the whole economy.”
NEJTC members will be asked next Tuesday to approve submission of the draft bid to the Government, before a final submission is made in November.
The bid includes high, medium, and low cost options – ranging from a minimum of £331.1m to £337.3m.
Government has indicated that all bidding city regions will discover what their cash allocation will be in early 2020, with the schemes that can be funded then delivered between 2020 and 2023.
The North East was awarded £10m in the first, much smaller, stage of the Transforming Cities Fund earlier this year.