Commuters will today find out for the first time what effect a 27-day major Metro shutdown will have on them.
Bosses of the network have admitted they do not know whether more than 50 replacement buses will be enough to make up for the loss of trains between Haymarket, the Airport and Four Lane Ends in Newcastle.
But they are hopeful the makeshift system will cope, as engineers work night and day to complete the largest upgrade in the system’s history.
“We’ve got to keep moving as it’s got to be finished by the 30th,” said Richard McLean, managing director of DB Regio Tyne and Wear, which runs the Metro on behalf of owner Nexus.
“But we won’t know until this week how it is all going to go.
“We know it will be disruptive and we know it is not something that passengers would have wished for but it’s not something we would have done if it was not important, and we’re trying to make it as painless as we can.”
Within minutes of the final train rolling down the tracks between Haymarket, Airport and Four Lane Ends on Saturday night, orange boiler suited engineers could be seen going onto the tracks to replace, repair and refurbish the rails – starting in South Gosforth.
By daylight the area was a hive of activity, with excavators being used to dig out tonnes of “ballast” stones and load sections of track onto the back of small open trains, to be taken away.
And though a few passengers took to social networks to question the need for such a widespread and prolonged shut down, many seemed to be using the replacement bus services.
However, this morning will prove the first real test of how the system will cope, with thousands of city staff set to try and get to work.
Passengers are being asked to plan journeys in advance and allow extra journey time.
Bernard Garner, director general of Nexus, said: “It will mean disruption for passengers and I’m sorry if anyone is inconvenienced.
“Closing the busiest section of the Metro system for so long does mean upheaval, but it is vital so that we can replace a key section of track in as short a time as possible. It will mean we can deliver a high-quality service for the next 50 years.”
Bosses said they planned the ï¿½30m works to coincide with their quietest period during the summer holidays.
For more information on the work and how to navigate around while it is taking place, visit www.nexus.org.uk