Seafront traders unhappy over planned Metro disruption for Easter and May Bank Holiday weekends
Seafront tourist attractions and traders fear Metro disruption over two busy Bank Holiday weekends could hit visitor numbers.
Replacement buses are set to be put in place over three forthcoming weekends, including the Easter and May Bank Holiday periods.
Services will be disrupted due to work that will see 1.6 kilometres of line replaced between Gateshead Stadium and Felling as part of the £350m Metro: all change modernisation programme over three weekends.
Matt Young, from Ocean Beach Pleasure Park, said: “The bank holiday is a very busy weekend for us,
“I don’t know why they have chosen to do this around a busy public holiday - it’s not great.
“We do get a lot of local footfall who come in their cars, but the Metro connects us with the town and also with city centres.
“A lot of people use the Metro to visit attractions down by the seafront, like the parks and the seafront.
“I know they are putting on replacement buses but not having the Metro running fully will still put a lot of people off.”
The planned disruptions to services are:
*On Saturday, April 13 and Sunday, April 14, there will be no trains from Monument in Newcastle to Hebburn/Brockley Whins in South Tyneside.
*From Friday, April 19, to Sunday, April 22, Easter weekend, there will be no trains from Gateshead Stadium to Hebburn/Brockley Whins.
*And from Saturday, May 4, to Monday, May 6, there will be no trains from Monument to Hebburn/Brockley Whins.
Replacement bus services, number 900 and 901, will be calling at or close to all Metro stations in the affected areas when the lines are closed.
Customers are advised to allow extra time if travelling through the affected areas.
The programme is an on-going Government funded scheme to modernise the Tyne and Wear Metro with new-look stations, refurbished trains, and new infrastructure including tracks, signals and overhead lines.
Joanne Meade, manager of the Sundial said: “The bank holidays and the summer months are time to maximise what we do and having the Metros off over what are our busiest weekends isn’t going to help.
“We have people who travel from Newcastle down to the Seafront and want to enjoy themselves without the constraint of having a car with them, but with added hassle of having to mess about with replacement buses they may choose to go elsewhere.
“There are a number of weekends they could have done this work over but I can’t see the logic of doing it over the Easter and May bank holiday weekends.”
A Nexus spokesman said: “We’re sorry if anyone in South Tyneside is going to be inconvenienced by the line closures over the Easter and the May bank holiday weekends.
“There is no good time to close a Metro line. We always aim to pack modernisation work into the most quiet periods when Metro sees its lowest passenger numbers. This is at weekends, and that includes bank holiday weekends.
“The alternative would be a closure of the lines on week days when far more people are relying on Metro services to get to places of work.
“This is something we cannot do, so the least worse option is to work at weekends and provide a frequent replacement bus service so that people can still travel through the affected areas.
“We know that line closures at weekends are a headache for customers but we have to press on with our modernisation programme to ensure we have a Metro system for many years to come.”
Customer services director at Nexus, Huw Lewis, said: “Track replacement is absolutely vital for us to secure Metro’s long term future and the next major piece of work will be in the Gateshead area over the coming weeks.
“Unfortunately this type of work can only be done by closing the line.
“We know that some customers will be inconvenienced by this and we apologise for it.
“We only close the line when absolutely necessary, and we always make closures as short as we possibly can.
“We also try to schedule the work for less busy periods.
“Frequent replacement bus services will be running in the affected areas and the message to customers is to plan ahead and make sure they allow themselves enough time to make their journeys.”
For more information passengers are advised to go to www.nexus.org.uk/metro/modernisation and for live updates go to the Metro’s official Twitter page @My_Metro.