Proposals to introduce new Tyne and Wear Metro trains from 2020 and reopen disused lines have been presented by the North East Combined Authority.
The 20-year, £1 billion ‘Metro and Local Rail Strategy’ includes new trains to replace the 36-year-old fleet and aspirations to reinstate disused and under-utilised railway lines to bring Metro services to towns like Ashington, Peterlee and Washington.
The authority said it will now look at the financial and technical feasibility of the strategy and build a business case for the plans, which it hopes to submit to the government before the end of the year.
The lines identified include some that already operate limited passenger services, some that are solely used by freight traffic and some disused lines where the alignment remains intact.
Nexus, the Tyne and Wear region’s Passenger Transport Executive (PTE), said it would look to procure a new fleet of multi-system trains capable of operating on the Metro’s 1.5 kV DC electrification system and the 25 kV AC used on the national rail network. Battery technology is also being considered for short sections of non-electrified line.
A spokesman for Nexus said the new units would allow Metro services to operate on the East Coast Main Line (ECML) and any future electrified routes, which could include the Durham Coast Line, Hexham-Carlisle route or a re-opened Leamside Line.
Tobyn Hughes, managing director for transport at the Combined Authority, said: “We believe some existing and disused local rail corridors can be combined with Metro to create a single network at a lower cost than new-build railways, By fusing local rail and Metro together we can create something new and better than the sum of those two parts.
“There are also areas where the existing Metro system can be upgraded, and the system is badly in need of a new fleet. This opens the possibility of a new Metro fleet working seamlessly alongside regional trains depending on the route and stations being served.”