Transport executive Nexus is investing £1.1million to strengthen and protect three Metro bridges at risk of vehicle crashes.
The project will see new crash barriers installed to prevent structural damage if any of the bridges are hit by a car or a lorry.
This will help Nexus to reduce delays caused when vehicles hit a Metro bridge and services have to be halted or slowed down while engineers are called out to check the structure has not been damaged.
Recent years have seen a number of incidents where large vehicles have knocked out Metro services by smashing into bridges.
The bridges to get the new crash barriers are Monksway bridge, near Bede Metro station, the Hill Street bridge in Jarrow and the Black Road bridge in Hebburn.
The work is set to take place in the autumn. It forms part of the £389million Metro: all change modernisation programme, and will also involve each of the bridges being strengthened and weather proofed.
Director of Rail and Infrastructure for Nexus, Raymond Johnstone, said: “This is a shrewd piece of investment in three Metro bridges which have tended to sustain vehicle strikes over the years.
“Anyone who regularly travels through South Tyneside on Metro will know that we sometimes have to stop the trains when a bridge gets hit by a car, a van or a lorry. We are required to do this as a precaution because the structural integrity of the bridge has to be checked before trains can pass over it.
“In future the crash barrier will take the impact without the bridge itself being struck. This will reduce the need for Metros to be stopped when a bridge strike occurs.
“The line to and from South Shields is used by ten trains an hour, so if we can keep trains running we relieve a headache for our customers. Safety is always the main priority, so in some cases trains may still need to be halted but hopefully for much less time than we see at the moment.”
This investment in Metro in South Tyneside comes hot on the heels of the refurbishment of Jarrow, Hebburn and Bede Metro stations last year and the installation of automatic ticket gates at Chichester Metro station this spring.
Nexus is also working with South Tyneside Council to deliver a new consolidated transport interchange in South Shields town centre as part of the £100m regeneration of the town. The new-look transport interchange will be built in the heart of South Shields and will include a combined new Metro and bus station to the south of Keppel Street.