Labour mayoral candidate Kim McGuinness and Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery have urged the Conservative mayoral candidate to set out how much costs have increased on the vital Northumberland Line after his council colleagues admitted the project was severely behind schedule.
Tory Guy Renner-Thompson, a senior cabinet member at Northumberland County Council, is running to be mayor, the most important transport leader in the region, even as his own council is overseeing costly delays.
The Local Democracy Reporting service reported last week that the Northumberland Line project was now facing severe delays and concerns some stations could be dropped from the opening schedule.
Transport work is behind schedule
Work to build the new stations including Bedlington and Blyth Bebside is running behind schedule and Northumberland County Council has admitted the line could be delayed. The council is one of the lead partners on the project, leading on everything from milestone announcements to key planning applications.
Now, Renner-Thompson has been urged to reveal the cost of the delays in a scheme which was originally estimated to cost £166mn.
Kim McGuinness said:
“When Guy announced he would be standing as mayor, he gave an interview asking why Durham needed more than £1bn for a new railway, insisting train lines are just ‘some metal rails on some gravel’.
“The it emerged his County Council, in which he is a senior cabinet member, has admitted the multi-million pound Northumberland line railway project is massively delayed.
“Guy is clearly not a transport expert, but he needs to tell us what the cost over-spend is as a result of the council delays. He’s a cabinet member, he must surely be asking these questions at County Hall.
“If Guy wants to be mayor he needs to get on the phone to his Tory mates in government and demand we get the money to both reopen the railway line in Durham and ensure all of Northumberland’s promised new stations are opened on day one.”
Ian Lavery said:
“We have politicians going round pretending like they’ve delivered something when in reality we only have half a railway. People need to be honest about what caused these delays, how much they have cost and when we will final get our completed railway.”