Rail service improvements and disruptions

04.12.18

Overhaul of Tees Valley’s two biggest stations gets £45m boost, but DfT help still needed

Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA) has approved a £45m investment to “dramatically overhaul” Darlington and Middlesbrough stations as part of improvements which mayor Ben Houchen told RTM would be “central” to the celebrations of the region’s bicentenary of transport heritage.

A total of £25m has been earmarked for Darlington station – the ‘gateway’ to Tees Valley, according to Houchen – and £20m to redevelop Middlesbrough station, with the money coming from the £75m Transforming Cities Fund which has been devolved to the combined authority.

The project is being carried out by TVCA and Middlesbrough Council in conjunction with the DfT, Transport for the North, and Network Rail.

Darlington station will use the £25m funding to create new platforms which will unlock greater capacity across the area and provide faster, more frequent, and better-quality services.

Once completed, the combined authority says the station will “futureproof the gateway for HS2 services” as well as allow for better freight connections from Teesport, preparing the station for high-speed and Northern Powerhouse Rail.

The £20m for Middlesbrough will see additional platform capacity to accommodate existing and increased future services, including services to London.

Artist's Impression of Middlesbrough station regeneration (002)

Houchen stated: “Our £75.5m transport fund has only been devolved to the Tees Valley because we have a directly-elected mayor. Using this pot of money, I’m delighted we’re able to commit £45m of this for Middlesbrough and Darlington rail stations.”

The mayor declared that the Darlington funding “will kick-start the work that will make travel regionally and nationally better than ever,” cutting journey times and improving regional rail links – but he stressed that government funding will be needed to complete this plan.

The funding for Middlesbrough, on the other hand, will be fully funded to ensure the region can take advantage of new services to London and doubling services to Whitby, as well as the Northern Connect express service into Newcastle.

“The people of the Tees Valley rightly demand high-quality rail links connecting them with the whole region and the rest of the country,” Houchen added. “If we do not make these important investments now, it is hard to see how these critical upgrades can go ahead.”

The combined authority cabinet lead for transport and leader of Darlington council, Stephen Harker, said the investment would go a long way to realising a more connecting region for everyone: “More than this, the schemes to redevelop these two major transport hubs will give the people that live here stations that they can be proud of.”

Investment in northern railway will be the focus of discussions at TransCityRail North, the northern powerhouse rail event which will take place on 3 October 2019 in Manchester.

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