I've been campaigning for years to bring the Metro to Washington. It's just not right that Washington residents pay for the Nexus network through their council tax, but don't benefit directly from it.
I believe that having at least one Metro station in the town will bring huge benefits - allowing residents to access job opportunities in the rest of the region, as well as bringing more people and businesses into the local area.
I was delighted when Nexus published plans to extend the network to bring 3 stations to Washington, as detailed in the picture above - but if it's ever going to happen, it will need investment from central Government, and for that to happen we need to demonstrate that there's widespread public support for it.
Since 2010 I've tabled four petitions in Parliament, with thousands of signatures collected by Sun FM, the Washington Star and local resident Adam Robson.
So if you agree that Washington deserves to be on the Metro Map, please add your name below, and share this page with your friends and relatives through social media and good old-fashioned word of mouth.
Thanks for your support for this important campaign.
The Petition of residents of the United Kingdom,
Declares that the Petitioners believe that the extension of the Tyne and Wear Metro to Washington is a vital, yet missing, part of the region’s transport system, and further that such an extension would make a significant contribution to the economic development of the town.
The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Secretary of State for Transport to seriously explore the feasibility of extending the Tyne and Wear Metro to the town of Washington, utilising the old Leamside railway line.
And the Petitioners remain, etc.
Today, Sharon submitted a letter to the Department of Transport’s Call for Evidence on light rail. Sharon has also sent a copy of this letter to the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling.
Please click on the image above to see the letter in full
Washington is the largest conurbation in England without a rail link, despite having a population of almost 70,000. While our Metro is one of our national treasures, residents of Washington do not benefit directly from it, and I believe an extension is well overdue. This is an issue myself and my constituents are passionate about.
The letter provides an outline of numerous reasons that the Metro should be extended;
Incentivise investment and growth, while promoting higher employment rates and more opportunities for not only Washington but Tyne and Wear as a whole
More accessible options for post-16 education at the many colleges, sixth form centres and training campuses around the region, while post-16 education institutions in Washington would become more accessible and attractive to students in the region
Incentivise residents to use a more sustainable mode of transport, helping our environment and congestion in the region, where 70% of Washington residents are currently car-dependent
Proposals suggest re-opening existing transport infrastructure. The disused Leamside Line would easily connect Washington to stations at Pelaw and in Sunderland.
"Despite being left behind so often, Washington has so much potential. I believe that an extension of our Metro to Washington is an opportunity to make the future of Tyne and Wear a prosperous one."
UPDATE: 21st March
On Thursday 21st March, Sharon raised this in the House of Commons during Transport Questions. You can watch Sharon's question here
Sharon receives a response from Jo Johnson MP, the Minister of State at the department for Transport about the Tyne and Wear Metro.
Click on the image above to read the letter.
Sharon has today (20th December) geared up her long-standing campaign to bring the Tyne and Wear Metro to Washington with a letter to the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling MP, following the publication of the Department for Transport’s: Connecting people: a strategic vision for rail.
In her letter, Sharon raises the need for much needed economic growth in the North East and how this can be untapped with improved transport infrastructure investment and highlights how the extension of the Metro network into Washington is a perfect example of unlocking economic growth.
Further in the letter, Sharon outlines how statements made in the Connecting people document help make the case that she has been making for many years now, including the improved connectivity that extending the Metro, and therefore the Leamside Line, but also the jobs it can bring to not only the major cities but also Washington itself.
Following sending the letter, Sharon said:
“Banging the drum in Parliament for this campaign is something I have been honoured to do, and will keep on doing, as it would help unlock the much needed economic growth our region so desperately needs.
“The vision set out by the Government does leave me with trepidation following their shoddy track record on transport infrastructure; yet, this is a perfect opportunity to make the case to ministers to fund this long-standing campaign.
“For too long, the people of Washington have waited for improvements to their transport connectivity by extending the Metro to Washington and it is high time ministers acted to give the people of our town the transport network they desire and deserve.”
You can read Sharon's letter to the Transport Secretary by following this link HERE.
Sharon Hodgson MP's report - Jan 2017 number 91
Read Sharon Hodgson MP's report - News from Westminster - Jan 2017 number 91
Sharon Hodgson has written to the new Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling MP, calling on him to support the recent decision by the North East Combined Authority (NECA) to support extension of the Tyne and Wear Metro into areas of the region currently not served by the Metro, such as Washington.
The decision by the NECA has been welcomed by Sharon as part of her campaign to see the Tyne and Wear Metro extended into Washington – the fourth largest town in England not served by a rail station.
As part of her campaign, Sharon has repeatedly called on the previous Coalition Government and the current Conservative Government to support vital transport infrastructure in the region, seen through submitting three petitions in the last Parliament and one during this Parliament last July on behalf of residents and in her speech in the Budget debates earlier this year where she called on the former Chancellor, George Osborne, to seriously invest in North East transport infrastructure as part of his Northern Powerhouse project.
In Sharon’s letter to the Transport Secretary she raised the long-standing history of rail in the region, and specifically within the constituency of Washington and Sunderland West with the Bowes Railway Museum, which is based on part of one of the first railway routes in the country which was built by George Stephenson and the need to support the decisions made by local decision makers to invest in local transport infrastructure, whereby extending the Metro would allow the much-needed economic growth in the North East to be realised and better transport access to Tyne and Wear’s two city hubs, Sunderland and Newcastle.
Following her letter to the Transport Secretary, Sharon said:
“It was very welcome when last week news broke that the North East Combined Authority was considering Metro extension plans, including into Washington, and that this has now been fully backed at a full meeting of the Combined Authority this week.
“My constituents have made their voice clear that they want to see the Metro extended into Washington and time and time again, I have raised this on their behalf with the previous Coalition Government and the current Tory Government as something vital to the Government’s Northern Powerhouse project.
“Now is an important time for the Government to act and support the business case set out by the NECA which will be put forward to the Transport Secretary in the coming months and I hope he will deliver for the region. As always, I will be continuing to push on this important matter for my constituents at every available opportunity in Parliament.”
You can read Sharon's letter to the Transport Secretary here.
Sharon raised extension of the Metro into Washington during her contribution to the Budget debates. You can read her speech here.
If you support the extension of the Metro into Washington, you can sign Sharon's petition here.
News from Westminster
Read Sharon Hodgson MP's report - News from Westminster - Mar-Apr 2016 - number 84
Sharon Hodgson speaking in the second day of the Budget Debates - 21st February 2016
Image copyright Parliamentary Recording Unit 2016
Following the Chancellor's Budget on 16th March 2016, Sharon spoke in the second day of the Budget debates and raised concerns about the complete and forced academisation of schools in England and the impact this could have on children with special educational needs and disabilities, along with the failure of the Chancellor to significantly recognise the North East in his Budget which was driven by his desire to push further on his pet project, the Northern Powerhouse.
Read Sharon's speech in Hansard here: Sharon Hodgson MP in the Budget Debate 2016
Test pasted here:
Mrs Sharon Hodgson (Washington and Sunderland West) (Lab): In the time allotted, I cannot cover all the items that make up this ultra-shambles of a Budget, but I will set out a few.
The Government believe that the complete academisation of our schools by 2020 will help to address the widening gap in educational outcomes for the most disadvantaged in our schools. Yet there are many concerns about what that will mean in reality, especially for children with special educational needs and disability.
Since the publication of the Department for Education White Paper, many parents and organisations have contacted me regarding their concerns about what the proposals will mean for children with autism, dyslexia or other special educational needs or disabilities. Evidence has shown that academies have higher rates of exclusion of children with SEND, who are then pushed into local authority maintained schools. Once all schools are academies, who will take the excluded children with SEND? Those children are as worthy as any others of receiving a high-quality education, and I hope the Government will ensure that we continue to have an inclusive education system and that children with SEND are not sidelined or excluded in the fully academised school system they are creating.
Other announcements by the Chancellor failed to recognise the need for further investment in the north-east. That was seen clearly when he announced £80 million for Crossrail 2 in London and the next phase of high-speed rail—High Speed 3—which will go only as far as Leeds. Some of us live more than 100 miles further north, in the north-east, and I wait with bated breath for the day when HS4 or HS5—or will it be HS 67?—reaches us in the north-east.
The Chancellor obviously sees himself as the King in the North, with his northern powerhouse project, but he needs to realise that there is a lot more of the north before he gets to the wall—that is Hadrian’s wall, not the one in “Game of Thrones”. If he truly wants to be the King in the North, and we all know he has—or should I now say had?—ambitions for higher office, he needs to realise that there is a large section of the north between Yorkshire and Scotland called the north-east and to ensure that investment is directed to our region too.
However, there is still something the Chancellor can do now—invest in the future of the Tyne and Wear Metro. The rolling stock has not been updated in its 36-year history. However, for an estimated £400 million, a much-needed completely new fleet could be built, which would future-proof the network into the 21st century, with options for dual voltage giving it the ability to procure vehicles suitable to support future route extensions, such as the expansion into Washington via the Leamside line, which I have campaigned for more than 10 years. That would help not only to drive economic growth, with improved connectivity to other parts of the region, but provide the vital jobs we need through the building of the new fleet.