Tees rail stations boosted by £11m government backing

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Plans to transform Darlington and Middlesbrough railway stations have been given a government boost after Transport Secretary Grant Shapps MP pledged £11m of funding to develop both schemes.

The announcement, of £8.7m for Darlington station and £2.45m for Middlesbrough, will help develop proposals for a package of enhancements to modernise each station.

The mayor and combined authority have also pledged £25m for work at Darlington station, which would see improvements to the fabric of the station, including improved entrances, and the regeneration of the wider area around the station.

The news comes just weeks after Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen revealed that work on the £35m plan to redevelop Middlesbrough station could begin in the autumn, following a £22.5m pledge from the mayor and combined authority, and the submission of its outline business case.

The new funding comes following an initial commitment by Chancellor Rishi Sunak at the last Budget to provide £80m for the redevelopment of Darlington station.

Mayor Houchen said: “This latest tranche of funding shows the government’s commitment to improving rail connectivity and frequency for local travellers.

“I have already pledged almost £50m to develop a package of improvements to both Middlesbrough and Darlington Stations and today’s announcement of a further £11m investment will provide thousands of passengers in Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool the faster, more frequent and better quality services that they deserve.

“Access to good quality reliable and affordable public transport is key to my jobs plan for local workers. It’s pointless creating good-quality, well paid jobs if hard working local people cannot easily get around the region. Increasing the frequency of services and train routes is a key part of my plan to for workers, local jobs and wages.

“It is of paramount importance that my £140m plans will future proof Darlington to meet HS2 demand, improve capacity and access for local services, and an upgraded station at Middlesbrough will allow for better freight connections as well as deliver more train services to the town, including the first direct rail link to London in decades.”

Plans for Darlington include two new bay platforms for local services, one new through platform for southbound long-distance services and a raft of improvements to make the station more accessible.

Once complete, the upgraded station will unlock capacity across the area leading to faster, more frequent and better quality services in Tees Valley.

It will also allow for better freight connections from Teesport, and prepare the station for high-speed services and Northern Powerhouse Rail

Cllr Heather Scott, leader of Darlington Council and Tees Valley Combined Authority cabinet lead for transport, said: “This announcement is a big step forward for the ambitious plans to transform Darlington Bank Top station for generations to come.

“Efforts to secure an upgrade for our historic station have been in train for many years, and have involved a great number of organisations and individuals working together. I know the people of Darlington will join me in welcoming this announcement and the latest exciting progression for this project, which will have wide-reaching economic and social benefits, not just in our own borough, but across the Tees Valley and the wider region.”

Proposals at Middlesbrough would see platform 2 extended, allowing it to accommodate new, longer, LNER Azuma trains as Mayor Houchen continues to lead discussions with the Government-owned operator to restore daily services from Middlesbrough to London.

The scheme will also see major customer service improvements at the station including a new £6.5m entrance, with accompanying business units on Zetland Road.

A third phase could see a new platform three built to the north of platform 2, to further increase train capacity within the station.