Section of Metro to close for 12 weeks under major 'Metro Flow' upgrade scheme - but work won't start until 2022

Transport chiefs say the work on the Metro network will take place after the 2022 Great North Run, and finish before ChristmasTransport chiefs say the work on the Metro network will take place after the 2022 Great North Run, and finish before Christmas
Transport chiefs say the work on the Metro network will take place after the 2022 Great North Run, and finish before Christmas
Sections of the Metro in South Tyneside are set to be closed for 12 weeks as part of a major upgrade scheme.

Transport operator Nexus is currently looking for a contractor for its ‘Metro Flow’ project which aims to reduce journey times and unlock future expansion of the Metro system.

The work will see an existing freight line upgraded and electrified making it capable of carrying Metro services, with three sections of track totalling 3km dualled between the Pelaw and Bede Metro stations.

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While the project is not due to start until September 2022, the works are expected to have a major impact on local services.

“You probably will be looking at a 12-week blockade where the Metro trains will not run in that period of time,” said Claire Tulley, Nexus community relations officer.

“But we are starting to look at creating some communications plans so that we can speak with stakeholders and [councillors] and just keep that message going and moving forward.

“We are out to tender at the moment for a contractor for the works because obviously the size of the works needs contractors to be involved.

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“We will hopefully by the end of February/start of March [2021] have picked a preferred bidder.

“So come March time I will be able to then update again in regards to the programme, who that contractor will be and then we will obviously start getting out and about and speak to tenants, residents, [councillors] stakeholders and local businesses.

“We’re keen to work quite closely with local businesses because obviously they will have some form of impact when the major line works are carried out.”

Ms Tulley was speaking at a meeting of South Tyneside Council’s Jarrow and Boldon Community Area Forum (CAF).

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In response to a question from CAF chair, councillor Margaret Peacock, it was confirmed that a replacement bus service would be put in place.

The Nexus officer added: “We’re working with the Great North Run company because we don’t want to cause issues, we know it’s good for the area and the North East.

“That [line] work will start after the Great North Run in 2022 and finish in time for Christmas.”

The Metro Flow project aims to deliver capacity for an extra 24,000 passengers per day, improved reliability and recovery from major disruption and increased frequency of Metro trains to ‘one every ten minutes’ outside central areas.

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In addition, the scheme aims to better support major events such as the Great North Run, Sunderland International Airshow, stadium concerts and major sporting events.

The three sections of line are located between Pelaw and Hebburn, Hebburn and Jarrow and Jarrow and Bede.

A statement on the main website of Nexus states these “pinch points” are the only remaining single-track sections on the system, where trains must use the same line in both directions.

“Single track sections effectively create a traffic light problem – with drivers having to wait for the green light each time they make a journey along these sections of single track,” it goes on to say.

“Because this is already one of the busiest rail networks in the UK anything more than an extra few seconds can cause knock-on delays right across the Metro network.

“With so little slack in the system it also makes it difficult for Metro to expand with little headroom in timetables to add additional stops and new routes.

“By converting the three outstanding sections to dual tracks Nexus can solve this problem.”

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