Countdown to Metro line closure - travellers urged to prepare for service suspension between Pelaw and South Shields

Tyne and Wear Metro passengers now have just four weeks to prepare for a major shutdown that will take a big chunk of the network out of action for three months.

The line between Pelaw and South Shields will be completely closed for 12 weeks from mid-September, the biggest closure in the Metro’s 42-year history, for the £103 million ‘Metro Flow’ upgrade works that it is hoped will deliver a substantial long-term boost to the region.

Engineers will be dualling three single-track sections of the Metro line between Pelaw and Bede stations, to allow more trains to run, improve reliability, and boost the system’s capacity by up to 24,000 extra journeys every day.

While the removal of the pinch points is seen as critical to the Metro’s future and hopes of expanding services to new areas, as bosses also await the arrival of a much-needed new fleet of trains currently being built in Switzerland, the work will cause severe disruption for passengers in South Tyneside.

Metro bosses hope the Metro Flow project will be worth the temporary pain for commuters.

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Commuters and families are being warned to make sure they have plans in place for how to get to work or school once the closure comes into force.

The South Shields leg of the Metro will be closed in both directions starting from Monday, September 12 - the day after the Great North Run, until December 4.

Major projects director at Nexus, Cathy Massarella, said: “The £100 million Metro Flow project involves a massive programme of track dualling, which can only be carried out during a three-month major line closure – which is the longest and biggest that we’ve ever undertaken.

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Metro services between Pelaw and South Shields will be suspended from September 12.

“It is never an easy decision to close such a large section of the network for such a long period of time, but this is the only way that we can effectively deliver the track dualling works.

“Customers will need to plan ahead when the line closure is in place. Allow plenty of extra time for your journeys and there will be frequent replacement buses running, which includes an express service between Heworth and South Shields.

“The work, which has been ramping up on site for months as we countdown to the start September start date, will see three pinch points on the Metro network eliminated by the dualling of an existing freight line, which will become part of the Metro’s own infrastructure.

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“This also gives us the scope to examine future opportunities to expand the network to other areas that are currently not served by Metro.”

There will be two frequent replacement bus services in operation throughout the closure. The 900 service will call at or close to all stations between Heworth and South Shields, while the X900 will be a faster bus stopping only at Heworth, Jarrow, and South Shields.

The sections of line that will be dualled are found between Pelaw and Hebburn (800 metres), Hebburn and Jarrow (1.4km) and Jarrow and Bede (600 metres).

Currently, train drivers have to wait for a green light to pass through those sections of the network to ensure they do not collide with a train coming the opposite direction – causing delays that have a knock-on impact across the Metro system.

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Metro operator Nexus secured £95m from the Government’s Transforming Cities Fund to pay for the bulk of the upgrade project.