South Tyneside Metro users could see journey times increased by more than ten minutes during major works
Metro users in South Tyneside could see more than 10 minutes added to their journeys as work takes place on a new Â£21m transport interchange.
Nexus, the public body which owns and manages the Tyne and Wear Metro, will carry out track and signalling updates before the interchange opens in South Shields next year.
However, travellers are expected to face up to 10 months of service disruption, with phase one of the works starting next month.
On September 18, South Tyneside Council’s Riverside Community Area Forum heard updates on the scheme.
Customer services director for Nexus, Huw Lewis, speaking at South Shields Town Hall, said the works would deliver a “great new asset for the town centre”.
“I think it will be the best on the Metro when it opens and an icon for South Tyneside,” he added.
“But there is some short term pain for the long term gain we will get out of that.”
The first phase of works – between Monday, October 1 and Saturday, November 3 – will see the line between South Shields and Chichester close for five weeks in both directions.
While a replacement bus service will be provided, Mr Lewis said, there would be an extra 10 to 15 minutes journey time for passengers travelling from South Shields towards Chichester.
The second phase of works from Sunday, November 4, will also see trains unable to use platform two at Chichester station until August 2019 due to “signalling constraints”.
As a result, journey times will take eight to 12 minutes longer for passengers travelling from South Shields to Jarrow or Newcastle, the meeting heard.
Passengers going from South Shields to Chichester should remain on the train until Tyne Dock before returning to platform one at Chichester.
The reasons for the platform closure lie with new track works and the impact on all Metro train times if the Chichester platform remained open – a decision backed by Nexus transport modelling tests.
Coun Angela Hamilton asked for assurances that Nexus would publicise the changes during times of high passenger demand, such as the Easter weekend.
The meeting heard that posters and public announcements would reach people who regularly use the metro but that there were no plans for for relaxed restrictions or concessions around fares.
In response to a public question, Mr Lewis added bus services would “fit in with the trains” with passengers having to time to walk from the Metro to relevant services.
“We don’t want to put people off making these journeys and we need to get that balance right,” he said.
He added that improvement works between Gateshead and South Shields will see more weekend line closures in future, but described it as “vital work”.
For more information on the planned works in South Shields, visit: nexus.org.uk/metro/updates
Caption: South Shields Town Hall
Chris Binding , Local Democracy Reporting Service