Plans to reopen a railway station in County Durham have taken a step closer to becoming a reality, as Government announces funding to further develop the proposal.
Last year, Durham County Council submitted proposals to reopen Ferryhill Station after the government allocated £500 million to restore railways and reconnect communities, providing feasibility funding for 38 rail proposals across three rounds, from nearly 200 submissions.
A Strategic Outline Business Case was submitted to the Department for Transport (DfT) with the endorsement of Sedgefield MP Paul Howell, detailing proposals to re-establish Ferryhill’s passenger rail connection.
The Ferryhill station would potentially utilise the existing Stillington Line, currently only used for freight services, to create a passenger rail service running from Ferryhill to Teesside.
Having assessed the Strategic Outline Business Cases, the DfT has now announced in the latest round of its Restoring Your Railway programme that Ferryhill is one of nine projects to progress to the next stage of development.
Further detailed analysis will now be carried out by Network Rail, to assess the reopening of the station.
Elizabeth Scott, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economy and partnerships, said: “This is an incredibly exciting announcement and brings us one step closer to realising our plans to reopen Ferryhill Station to passengers.
“The station offers a unique opportunity to link the south of the county with key employment sites in Teesside, including the proposed Teesside Freeport and Tees Valley multi-modal hydrogen transport hub, which have the potential to support 18,000 and 3,900 jobs respectively.
“Partnered with the potential long-term reinstatement of the Leamside Line, which is still under review, a Ferryhill station could be part of a potential new Tyne-Tees connection, seeing rail services continue all the way up to Newcastle.
“The improved rail connectivity would also encourage a shift from road to public transport, helping to reduce congestion and environmental impact. We are delighted that Ferryhill Station is closer to becoming a reality, and we will now be focusing on the next stages of development.”
Ferryhill has an estimated population of almost 10,000 people and sits within a wider five-kilometre catchment area where there are a further 50,000 residents, meaning that the station would improve transport connectivity for thousands of residents.
Paul Howell, MP for Sedgefield, said: “I can only echo Elizabeth Scott and say how thrilled I am about today’s DfT announcement that Ferryhill is one of the nine projects to progress to the next stage of development.
“Places like Ferryhill are crying out for direct rail connectivity, and we must continue to call for investment in this critical piece of railway infrastructure. I am delighted that the support that the Durham leadership have given and the shouting up I have done in Westminster have been recognised by DfT and we will continue to push hard until we see spades in the ground.”