Metro bosses pledge flood action after 'biblical' downpour caused chaos on Great North Run day
A “biblical” downpour on the afternoon of Sunday, September 11, caused travel chaos for the thousands of runners and spectators trying to get home from South Shields after the race.
As a month’s worth of rain fell in less than an hour, a torrent of water came bursting through the doors of South Shields Interchange.
The transport hub, which cost £21million to build and opened in 2019, had to be evacuated and temporarily closed.
Water also had to be pumped off the railway tracks near Tyne Dock station because of the flash flooding, with Metro services suspended for around 90 minutes on a day when the network carried a record-breaking number of passengers.
While Sunday’s deluge came at the worst possible time for the Metro, operator Nexus says it will now look into what can be done to stop another extreme weather event causing similar problems again.
Nexus customer services director Huw Lewis told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “We were surprised at how suddenly the interchange flooded, even allowing for the fact that the are saw a month’s rainfall in less than an hour. So we and the council will be taking a detailed look at what might be done about that to prevent it happening again.”
Cathy Massarella, Nexus’ interim managing director, told a North East Joint Transport Committee meeting on Thursday that a detailed review would be conducted.
She added: “One of the biggest interventions is, clearly, that the Tyne Dock area has been subject to flooding before and so we will be working with South Tyneside Council to progress discussions with Northumbrian Water to look at more long-term infrastructure in that area.”
Ms Massarella praised passengers for being “extremely understanding and patient” during an “incredibly difficult experience” for them – and told councillors that the situation could have been even worse, were it not for major upgrades to the South Shields Metro line carried out last year.
She said that, without the Metro Flow project that boosted the capacity of the train line between Pelaw and Bede, drenched runners and their families could have been stood waiting a further two hours on Sunday night.
North Tyneside deputy mayor Carl Johnson also highlighted the importance of the Shields Ferry, the future of which is in question due to a lack of funding to replace its ageing north jetty.
He said: “It was a unique event and getting people home safely was the priority, we did that as best as we could on the day. It also goes to show how important the Shields Ferry is to us at times like this because the ferry did not stop running all day.
“When the Metro stopped, the ferry was still going and that shows why we still need to get the funding for that new landing.”