'Metro Flow' project reaches halfway stage on schedule - chiefs confirm South Shields to Pelaw line set to reopen on time

Work on the £104million ‘Metro Flow’ project has reached its halfway stage on schedule, say transport chiefs.

Metro services have been suspended between Pelaw and South Shields since September 2022 to allow for work on the line-dualling project, which bosses say will make services more reliable, allow for increased frequency of service, and open the door to expanding the network to more destinations.

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A total of 3km of new line has been installed so far, which has included the complete replacement of five track junctions.

Teams working on the Metro Flow project.

More than 4,000 new sleepers have gone in alongside 16,000 tonnes of new ballast. A thousand rail workers are employed on the vast work site which stretches from Gateshead into South Tyneside.

Metro Flow is being carried out during a 12-week major line closure between Pelaw and South Shields.

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It is the longest and biggest planned closure on Metro that Nexus has ever undertaken in 42 years of operations.

Cathy Massarella, Major Project Director at Nexus, said: “The Metro Flow project has reached the halfway point and the works are making great progress.

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Teams working on the Metro Flow project.

“Three kilometres of new Metro tracks have been successfully installed already and we remain on course to get the line back open to customers on December 4.

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“The works have been intensive. It is the biggest line closure we have ever undertaken. We have seen sections of old track excavated to make room for the new lines.

“In three key areas we are dualling the track by upgrading the adjacent freight line, which will become part of the Metro’s infrastructure.

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“We are really grateful to our customers and our lineside neighbours for their patience while we carry out this project, which involves us working right around the clock.

Teams working on the Metro Flow project.
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“Metro Flow will allow us to improve reliability on the Metro system, allow for a greater frequency of services in the future when we have our new trains, and offer scope to examine future opportunities to expand the network to other areas that are currently not served by Metro.”

Cllr Tracey Dixon, leader of South Tyneside Council, said: “We are delighted to be on schedule. Having a safe, reliable and sustainable public transport network is crucial for people to get around, whether they are travelling to work, education or for recreation.

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“The planned line closure marks a significant step in the Metro Flow project, an investment which will bring long term benefits to the Borough and the wider region.

“Although it does mean there is continued disruption for those who use the Metro to travel to and from South Tyneside, people are assured that once the Metro Flow project is complete, it will make a huge difference with journey times and frequency vastly improved.

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“The track dualling will also help to minimise disruption if problems occur while creating scope for expansion of the Metro network in the future.”

A replacement bus service is in operation while Metro trains are suspended. Service 900 calls at all affected stations on the route and the X900 is an express service from South Shields to Heworth.

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A total of £95million has been secured from the Government’s Transforming Cities Fund, allowing Metro operator Nexus to deliver the scheme, which is costing £104million in total.

A 4.6km stretch of Metro track is being replaced, including three sections of single-track totalling three kilometres between Pelaw and Bede Metro stations.

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There are three single-track sections on the Metro network, where trains must use the same line in both directions, leading to hold-ups if there are even minor delays and making it harder to recover when incidents occur.

The sections of line are located between Pelaw and Hebburn (800 metres), Hebburn and Jarrow (1.4km) and Jarrow and Bede (600 metres).

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The Metro Flow project will be carried out by Buckingham Group Contracting Ltd.