VILLAGES in South Tyneside could be linked up by the future Metro system under ambitions new plans.
The Tyne and Wear Integrated Transport Authority meets today at Newcastle Civic Centre to hear that Metro owner Nexus has drawn up proposals for the future which could see a massive extension of the network – and a £300m new fleet of hi-tech trains.
Under the plan, which includes more stations across the region, “on-street” trams could run from South Shields town centre to Harton and Cleadon Villages and then on to Seaham
Coun Pat Hay, Labour representative for Harton Village, believes the idea would be welcome, if it came to fruition.
She said: “I think it would be a wonderful idea.
“Not only would it create scores of job, but it would mean all of the villages would be linked.
“This would help boost tourism and make it easy for people to commute to work.
“I know at the moment in Harton you have to either walk or wait for a bus to take you to the nearest Metro station.”
The proposals also include the introduction of a circular route, connecting Pelaw, Washington, South Hylton, Sunderland and East Boldon.
This would be formed by connecting the disused Leamside line and the former Sunderland to Durham rail line, west of South Hylton, with a diversion into the town centre.
Extending the current “joint running” arrangements with Network Rail – currently used between Pelaw and Sunderland – would allow Metro trains to travel as far as Seaham.
Up to three additional stations could be provided.
An “on-street” tram link, from Sunderland city centre, heading north to South Shields via Monkwearmouth and Cleadon, and west to Doxford Park and Doxford International business park, is also part of the plan.
The project would require massive investment, however, and Nexus says it is keen to start consultation on the proposals soon in order to bid for Government funding.
Nexus director general Bernard Garner said: “We’ve developed a long-term strategy for Metro, which explains how it will continue to play a vital role in providing sustainable transport vital to the region’s future prosperity.
“The key objective of the strategy is to secure a new fleet to replace the existing trains, which have been in use since 1980.
“It also identifies a number of new route corridors potentially suitable for Metro operation, using the most appropriate technology to meet the needs of each location.”