A £3million programme to replace the tracks in the Metro tunnels which run deep beneath the streets of Newcastle has been completed.
Nexus, the public body which owns, manages and is modernising the Tyne and Wear Metro, has replaced 4km of track which run from Jesmond to the QEII Metro bridge across the Tyne.
The work, which forms part of the £350million Metro all change modernisation programme, has been carried out entirely during night shifts to ensure no disruption to services on the busiest section of the system.
Coun Nick Forbes, lead member for transport on the North East Combined Authority, said: “The Metro tunnels are a vital transport link for our region, so this modernisation work is extremely welcome. Strong rail links are essential to the strength of the regional economy.”
Raymond Johnstone, director of rail and infrastructure for Nexus, said: “We have invested £3million in the iconic tunnels that run below the streets of Newcastle to ensure they can carry Metro trains for many decades to come.
“Our staff have carried out all the work in stages, during the small hours of the morning, so passengers won’t even have known it was taking place.
"This has meant no planned disruptions to services through the busiest section of the Metro system.
“The tunnels are a challenging environment to work in, but the project itself was more straightforward, as the actual track beds are concrete and they didn’t need to be replaced like in the other parts of the system which are overground.
“I’m also delighted Nexus was able to deliver this work in-house, using our own staff and equipment.”
Works in the Metro tunnels took place between 12am and 4.30am - the hours when Metro services are not in operation.
The track was carefully replaced in stages. Workers bolted sections of new rail on to concrete sleepers. The new rails were then clamped and welded together.
It is the first time the rails in Metro’s city centre tunnels have been entirely replaced since the system opened to passengers in August 1980.
The tunnels beneath the streets of Newcastle were bored out in the late 1970s and built specially to carry Metro trains through the city centre towards Gateshead and South Tyneside.