North East Rail & Metro Strategy Launched

The general public are being asked to air their views on the recently published North East Rail & Metro Strategy (NERMS) which aims to showcase the region’s rail and metro ambitions whilst creating a vision of what the network could look like by 2035. Indeed the team at SigTech Rail know the network very well having recently assisted Smart Trax on the metro track renewals in Gosforth.

The Strategy was developed by the North East Joint Transport Committee and demonstrates the integral part that rail plays in the lives of local people, whilst also following the regions shared vision for transport, the North East Transport Plan in 2021.

Councillor Martin Gannon, Chair of the North East Joint Transport Committee, said: “Rail and Metro connectivity is absolutely vital for our region and opens up new opportunities for local people to access work, education and leisure. “The North East rail system is in need of major investment to improve our rail network and ensure that our region has the capacity and infrastructure we need for generations to come.”

Customers who would like to take part in the online survey and have their say can go to

A key point of the new strategy is for the North East to seek further devolved powers from central Government so that it can achieve sustainable long-term funding streams, something which will give the North East the flexibility and freedoms to plan ahead and deliver a unified, integrated and co-ordinated transport system. For rail services this would translate into getting new regional powers so that the North East can specify and manage rail services on a common footing whilst integrating rail plans alongside the Metro. It is envisaged that the overall key objectives of the plans are to link all forms of public transport across the Tyne & Wear Metro, Rail & Bus Service Improvement Plan.

Key points of the North East Rail and Metro Strategy include;

  • Resilience & capacity needs to be increased on the East Coast Main Line and Durham Coast Line. Thus, building connectivity for both freight users and passengers.
  • Upgrading the existing local rail and Tyne & Wear Metro networks and services by extending their reach and adding new routes and stations such as Northumberland Line and Leamside Line.
  • Working with Network Rail, soon to become Great British Railways to seek greater influence over local rail to match the flexibility and accountability of Metro;
  • Updating, and regular maintenance to all Metro assets, including resignalling;
  • Introducing new trains, more efficient electric ones on Metro (the £362m new fleet due to enter service from 2023), and electric/battery/hydrogen trains on local rail also encouraging modal shift from road to rail on freight;
  • Some existing stations need improving & upgrading such as Sunderland station, Newcastle Central station and there needs to be new stations developed such as development Gateshead East.

Councillor Gannon said: “We know that independent reports have shown that levels of transport investment per head in the North East are seven times lower than in London – the disparity between our region and elsewhere in the UK is vast, and we need government to address this and help us fund our ambitions.

“The Tyne and Wear Metro provides a safe, appealing and sustainable transport choice for local people and we continue to invest in improvements for passengers. Projects including Metro Flow and the new Metro fleet will be truly transformational for the service but we want to do more to revitalise our entire rail network.

“Every journey by Metro contributes £8.50 to the region, so public transport use is a key driver for our economy. Increasing the number of journeys by rail and Metro will help us to tackle some of the biggest environmental challenges we face including air pollution and congestion, so I’m delighted to outline our plans to move our network forward.

“This strategy will be key in future funding bids for the region as we try to secure investment for new routes, stations and the continued renewal and modernisation of our railways. I hope that members of the public take this opportunity to comment on the network improvements proposed here. The case for improvement and expansion of local rail and Metro is simple – the more people who travel, the greater the benefits to the region.

“In the coming years we have a clear opportunity we need to seize with both hands, to transform rail connectivity to, from and within the North East. Whilst we, the North East Joint Transport Committee, think that this strategy sets out an ambitious but achievable connectivity vision for our railways, we want to know what the public think about these plans and whether we’ve got this right. I would encourage everyone – whether you currently use the rail network or not, to read the draft strategy and be part of this consultation so that we can be sure we deliver a rail and Metro network that is right for local people.”