Metro service could run again by Friday

METRO bosses last night said the disruption caused by a subsided mine shaft in North Tyneside could be over by the end of the week.

METRO bosses last night said the disruption caused by a subsided mine shaft in North Tyneside could be over by the end of the week.

Since the hole was discovered on Wednesday last week, near the Northumberland Park station, services between Shiremoor and Benton have been replaced with a bus.

It was feared the replacement service would have to run for weeks, but engineers have been working quickly to fill the hole on the line near Four Lane Ends.

And they now hope trains could be running through the area at a restricted speed by the end of this week.

More than 60 cubic metres of cement has been poured in and is being allowed to cure.

Work is continuing to drill exploratory boreholes in the surrounding area to establish if there is any further risk of subsidence.

Meanwhile, an emergency timetable is in operation throughout the Metro system. This means trains are leaving stations two or three minutes either side of the printed timetable, with a few early-morning trains cancelled.

Some commuters have expressed concern at the disruption to their journeys to work.

Alan Armour, 43, of Felling, Gateshead, said: “I usually get the 6.28 from Gateshead Stadium to Longbenton, but that has been taken off the timetable.

“There has been no warning and no new timetable announcements. There is now a gap of over 30 minutes between trains to Longbenton and there are hundreds of commuters wanting to use the service. We have been crammed in like sardines, and it seemed dangerous to me with that amount of people on. There were two empty trains going to the airport in that time.”

A spokesman for Metro operator Nexus said: “Now the issue has been brought to our attention, we will send staff to the area to check on passenger numbers.

“Each Metro carriage can carry 300 people before it gets dangerous. So each train can have 600 people on board.

“If there is an issue here, we will look at what we can do to help the situation.”

Metro director Mick Carbro last night thanked passengers for their patience and understanding as work continued.

He said: “We want to re-open the line as soon as it is safe to do so and we’ve been looking at ways to do that ahead of the original estimate with a slight speed restriction in place. I’m very pleased with what we’ve achieved so far. We’ll let passengers know through local media as soon as we have something definite to say.

“There may be a need for further maintenance in the area in the near future, but we will plan this to cause the least possible inconvenience to our customers.”

Experts from the Coal Authority have been working on the site alongside Nexus and Network Rail staff and contractors.

The subsidence is thought to have been caused by the exposure of a previously unknown bell pit that is several hundred years old.

Metro said most services would be at normal frequency. Advice is available from Traveline on 0871 200-2233.

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