A ‘monumental’ overhaul of the North East’s public transport has moved one step closer.

A final bid for £377m of government cash to fund dramatic upgrades to the region’s public transport network will be submitted in the coming days.

The money could help fund the re-opening of a disused rail line between Newcastle and Northumberland, more frequent Metro trains, station revamps, and cycle route improvements.

Leaders from the area’s seven local councils and North of Tyne mayor Jamie Driscoll agreed to approve the final bid for submission to the Department for Transport’s Transforming Cities Fund (TCF) on Tuesday.

 

And while full details could not be revealed due to pre-election purdah rules, it is understood that the bid is largely the same as draft plans revealed this summer.

That wishlist included £108m to enable the twin tracking of the Metro between Pelaw and Tyne Dock – a change that would allow for the daytime frequency of trains across the network to be increased from five to six per hour.

A further £99m was also earmarked to help restore passenger trains to the railway line running between Newcastle and Northumberland, via Ashington and Blyth.

Other schemes included more than £30m towards redevelopment of Newcastle and Sunderland rail stations, £11m for bus route improvements from South Shields to Newcastle, enhanced park and ride facilities, and £4.25m towards the demolition and redevelopment of Durham bus station.

 

Councillor Martin Gannon told the North East Joint Transport Committee that the TCF bid is “absolutely monumental in terms of securing our vision for the future of transport in the region”.

He added that a launch event could be held after the general election “to discuss what the scale of the bid is that we are putting in, our expectations from that, and what our vision for the region is”.

Mr Driscoll said after the meeting that whichever party forms the next government must "take transport devolution seriously".

The mayor said that massive improvements in public transport are the "only way" that the region can hit its targets to reduce harmful emissions.

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He added: "It is also the only way we can unlock our economic potential. A lot of people cannot get to education or work - we need to fix that.

"Whichever government is in there, they have to take transport seriously. You cannot operate on the basis of saying it is all about individual responsibility."

A decision on how much money the North East would be allocated had been expected before the end of the year.

Transport bosses say that every scheme funded through the project should be delivered between 2020 and 2023.