New delays mean pedestrian Tyne Tunnel will be THREE YEARS late in re-opening

The Tyne Pedestrian Tunnel
The Tyne Pedestrian Tunnel

The opening of a historic transport link from South to North Tyneside has been pushed back to the autumn.

The Grade II pedestrian Tyne Tunnel had been due to re-open in 2015 after it was closed in May 2013 for restoration work.

Inside the Tyne Tunnel in 1961

Inside the Tyne Tunnel in 1961

However, delays due to the original contractor entering administration and the discovery of asbestos have seen the date of completion changed a number of times.

At a meeting of the Jarrow and Boldon Neighbourhood Policing team, Alastair Swan, principal engineer for the tunnels’ owner, the North East Combined Authority (NECA), said it is now hoped the tunnels will be open later this year.

He said: “We anticipate some time in autumn for the tunnels opening.

“The maintenance work and refurbishment work has been progressing well throughout 2017. We are starting to put the finishing work on the walls.”

The maintenance work and refurbishment work has been progressing well througout 2017. We are starting to put the finishing work on the walls.

Alastair Swan

He added that he hoped, once opened, the pedestrian tunnel will become an attraction with people wanting to know how it was put together.

The tunnel opened in 1951 and connects Jarrow to Howdon, and was famous for, at the time, having the longest wooden escalators in Europe.

The £6.9million refurbishment project includes replacing two of the original four escalators with inclined lifts, replacing the tunnel’s outdated mechanical and electrical systems.

Two of the original escalators will remain in place and will be on public view due to their historical significance. They will be illuminated with feature lighting.

New lighting, CCTV, control and communications systems are also being installed, as well as repairs to the tunnel structure, tiling and panelling.

Coun Alan Smith, who visited the tunnel to see the work being undertaken, said: “The biggest problem is it’s a listed building, so everything that needed to be replaced had to be made in line with the originals.

“It was fantastic to see work that is going on.”