Halfway through the £140 million dualling project on the Tyne and Wear Metro in South Tyneside, and the works are bang on schedule.
With three kilometres of new track in place Nexus, the public body which owns and manages Metro, said the Metro Flow works are on course to be completed in by 4 December, the date planned for the line between Pelaw and South Shields is to re-open.
Cathy Massarella, major project director at Nexus said: “The Metro Flow project has reached the halfway point and the works are making great progress.
“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 4 December.
“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.
“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.
“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.”
A total of three kilometres of new line has been installed so far, including the complete replacement of five track junctions. When complete, a 4.6 kilometre stretch of Metro track will have been replaced, including three sections of single-track totalling three kilometres between Pelaw and Bede Metro stations.
The work is being completed by Buckingham Group Contracting Ltd, and so far, a thousand rail workers have helped install over 4,000 new sleepers, alongside 16,000 tonnes of new ballast 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, the longest and biggest planned closure on Metro that Nexus has ever undertaken in 42 years of operations. The track dualling will improve reliability across the whole of Metro and allow the greater frequency of trains in the future.
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.
“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.
“The track dualling will also help to minimise disruption if problems occur while creating scope for expansion of the Metro network in the future.”