Campaigners calling for the Tyne & Wear Metro to be expanded throughout Sunderland have called on the Government to ‘put its money where its mouth is.’

The calls – which would see the Metro expanded to Hendon, Ryhope and Doxford Park – follow the Prime Minister’s promise to reinvest £36 billion of ring-fenced HS2 money into new regional transport projects.

Speaking immediately in the wake of the cancelling of HS2, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak promised that the money saved would be used to fund “Network North”, a new scheme to improve bus and rail routes across the North of England.

Yet, despite promising to invest in a number of projects, including the reopening of the disused Leamside Line – which runs from Pelaw in Gateshead to Tursdale in County Durham – it reneged on the promise within just 24 hours and has since refused to commit to the majority of improvements initially promised.

This has led to renewed calls from local campaigners and councillors for the Government to “put its money where its mouth is” and back the Labour Party’s ambition for Sunderland, which would see both the Leamside Line reinstated, and the Tyne and Wear Metro expanded to Hendon, Ryhope and Doxford Park.

Cllr Lindsey Leonard, the Labour councillor for Ryhope Ward, said: “If this project was in the South East of England, then we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. Just look at the Elizabeth Line.

“Almost £19 billion was spent on the development before it opened in October last year, yet the expansion of the Metro would cost less than 5% of that.

“If the Government has ever been serious about Levelling Up, then the expansion of the Tyne and Wear Metro to incorporate Hendon, Ryhope and Doxford Park is exactly the type of infrastructure project they should be supporting to prove they mean what they say.”

Lindsey’s calls have also been echoed by Stephen Lewis Elms, the Labour candidate for Hendon Ward in the upcoming 2024 local elections.

He said: “The expansion of the Metro would be huge for residents and local businesses across the three wards, especially here in the Hendon Ward.

“It would make it a lot easier for local people to gain employment outside of the city and significantly boost the number of people visiting the areas and spending money with local businesses.

“Businesses based at Doxford International Business Park, who combined employ thousands of people, would also massively feel the benefit as it would make them a lot more competitive when it comes to attracting and retaining staff.

“The economic and societal impact would be transformational for the city, which is why we’re asking the Government to do the right thing and use the billions of pounds floating around from the cancelling of HS2 for projects that will actually enrichen the lives of people in Sunderland as opposed to their donors and friends in the City.”