Broken tunnels lift branded ‘a disgrace’

BREAKDOWN ... John Bage and, inset, the tunnels.
BREAKDOWN ... John Bage and, inset, the tunnels.

COMMUTERS using a famous transport link in South Tyneside have that sinking feeling.

The lift at the Jarrow end of the Tyne Pedestrian and Cyclist Tunnels has been taken out of service after a spate of recent breakdowns.

Tyne Pedestrian and Cycle tunnels.

Tyne Pedestrian and Cycle tunnels.

Problems with the lift – which was only installed just over a year ago – have left mothers with buggies climbing the long escalators at the South Tyneside side of the Grade II-listed tunnels between Jarrow and Howdon, which last year celebrated their diamond anniversary.

Cyclist John Bage, of Fellgate, Jarrow, who uses the tunnel every day while travelling to work, said: “The Jarrow lift is causing big problems. It has been going off several times a day for the past couple of weeks and looks like it is well and truly broken.”

Similar problems hit the lift last year and it follows a recent decision to take the outmoded ‘up escalator’ at the tunnels out of action.

Mr Bage, 64, added: “People have been struggling to climb the 150 stationary escalator stairs, including people with kiddies in prams.

“There is no alternative transport available. It is disgraceful.

“Users have recently been increasing in numbers, due to the fine weather, and we are nearing the time of year for tourists doing the C2C Cycle Route.

“About £250,000 was spent on each lift last year – but reliability is worse than the old one.”

A major refurbishment of the tunnels is planned for later this year, which will see two of the original four escalators replaced with inclined lifts.

The four escalators in the tunnels date back to 1951 and were a major factor in the structure gaining Grade-II listed status.

A spokesman for Tyne and Wear Integrated Authority, which owns the tunnels, said: “We have been experiencing recurring mechanical problems with the lift at the Jarrow end of the tunnels and have now decided to take it out of service until it can be examined by a specialist engineer.

“We regret the inconvenience this is causing to users and ask the public for patience and forbearance while we address the problem.”

Twitter: @terrykelly16