Metro passengers hailed as month of work starts for track and signalling upgrade
Metro passengers have been hailed as extra staff are drafted in while work to upgrade signalling gets underway between two stations in South Tyneside.
South Shields Metro Station is out of use to commuters until Saturday, November 3.
A replacement bus service has been put in place between South Shields Metro Station and Chichester Metro Station while work is carried out.
The Metro line will run as normal from Chichester towards Newcastle and Sunderland.
Yesterday, was the first day of what is set to be months of disruption for commuters as work to carry out track and signalling upgrades are carried out so trains can serve the new interchange when it opens in 2019.
Chichester saw more passengers than usual leaving from the station yesterday morning, although they seemed to accept their commute may take a little longer than normal.
Extra Metro staff have been drafted in to support travellers at both Chichester and South Shields stations and will be on site from 6am until the end of service each day.
One Metro passenger heading to Newcastle for work from Chichester said: “It’s the first day and everything seems to be going okay, but then the Metro doesn’t seem to have the best track record, so we will see how things go as the work continues.
“There’s plenty of Metro staff around to help people and there has been a lot of notice about the closures. It is a little bit busier than usual but nothing to get really angry about.
“I don’t think it’s going to make the trains any busier as most people who are travelling from South Shields to Chichester for the Metro would have already been on it.”
A number of Metro staff could be seen at both stations to help guide passengers alighting the Metro to continue their journey to South Shields by bus, or heading to the Metro from Chichester.
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One man who was heading to Gateshead from South Shields said: “I don’t get the Metro that often and it would just be my luck this is the week I need to use it, but the Metro staff have been really helpful. It’s just one of those things and it’s only one stop. I think it would have been different if the route was going further, it would be more of an inconvenience.
“Everything seems to be going fine so far and there’s not that many people waiting for the bus that you aren’t going to get on it. I’m not sure what else they are supposed to do to make things run smoothly for people. If work needs to be done, it needs to be done.”
The work will continue from Sunday November 4, when Metro trains will be unable to call at platform two at Chichester until the interchange works are completed in August 2019.
A spokesman for Nexus said: “We have got extra staff on duty during the five week line closure to provide our customers with information and assistance. There are staff at Chichester and South Shields to point people in the direction of the replacement bus services.
“We appreciate that the closure is an inconvenience for customers heading to and from South Shields but it is absolutely vital so that we can get the tracks and signals ready for the new Metro and bus interchange.”
The spokesman added: “It was busy yesterday morning as passengers arrived for the Monday commute from South Shields and staff were on hand to assist with information. Our customers have been great and they know that the line closure is needed so that next stage of the town centre regeneration programme can be delivered.”
Construction of the interchange, which forms Phase Two of the £100million South Shields 365 regeneration masterplan, began in April, is currently said to be on track to complete on time.
It will provide South Shields with a landmark new building housing both the Metro and bus concourses under one roof.
For more information about the Metro visit www.nexus.org.uk/metro/modernisation