Rail cash hopes hit the buffers

REGENERATION chiefs have been told to go back to the drawing board over plans to build a light rail network across the Tees Valley.

Tees Valley Unlimited (TVU), the area’s Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), submitted a £9.05m application to the flagship regional growth fund for cash to build the Metro network.

But Transport minister Mike Penning said it was unsuccessful because of doubts that it would create enough jobs.

All five local authorities in the region, including Hartlepool Borough Council, jointly formed the partnership and pitched for the funding for the Metro.

Mr Penning urged TVU to put together a better “business plan” before a renewed bid to the £1.4bn fund.

He added that the area needed to “brand” itself better as there was confusion over whether the area is known as Teesside or the Tees Valley.

A TVU spokeswoman confirmed that they are looking at re-submitting the bid and strengthening the business case but a final decision will be taken when the leadership board meets on June 28.

The first phase of the Metro system, which would link Teesside with Darlington, was promised £34m of funding before the last election but only £4.9m of the package was signed off before polling day.

That money will be used for station improvements at Eaglescliffe and Thornaby.

The remaining £29m, for new stations at Durham Tees Valley Airport and the James Cook University Hospital, in Middlesbrough, and major improvements to Darlington and Redcar stations, remains in limbo.