Work starts on the Tyne and Wear Metro

Metro bosses say the first working day of the system's 27-day, £30m upgrade went smoothly

Work begins at Ilford Road Metro station
Work begins at Ilford Road Metro station

Metro bosses say the first working day of the system's 27-day, £30m upgrade went smoothly.

Passengers still faced a rough journey to and from work as they had to take rail replacement buses, then saw sections of the track that was meant to be in operation flooded.

The sections of line between Haymarket, Four Lane Ends and the airport are closed for four weeks as a massive upgrade gets under way.

Director general of Metro owner Nexus, Bernard Garner, said work is continuing apace, with tonnes of stones and rails already removed along one of the oldest sections of the line.

“We are grateful to passengers for their patience since the major line closure got under way,” he said.

“The replacement bus service operated well and the number of buses we provided got everybody where they needed to be in the areas where the Metro line is closed.”

 

The work had been well advertised but commuters complained they were late for work, that the replacement buses took too long, that they still couldn’t understand the need for such widespread work or, in one case, that a bus driver had to get off and ask directions.

The late afternoon rain saw further misery with trains suspended between Bede and South Shields and North Shields and Tynemouth in both directions due to flooding.

And on the streets of Newcastle the reaction to the disruption was mixed.

Lawyer Rachel Davidson, 26, from Gateshead, said it had not caused her a major problem, and it was understandable why the work was needed.

“I just think its hilarious that people were moaning at staff who were out in the rain to help them – they’re just there to do their job,” she said. “It could be a lot worse.”

But Kathy Browne-Coates, 56, from South Gosforth, was not happy about the shutdown.

“I have to leave home a lot earlier and I’ll get home a lot later,” she said.

“I used to be able to get the Metro straight to Monument in 10 minutes, then get the bus to work, but now I’m looking at half an hour.It’s really inconvenient.”

With thousands of workers using the replacement bus services without major delays, Metro bosses hailed the makeshift arrangement a success.

Richard McClean, managing director of DB Regio Tyne and Wear, which operates the Metro on behalf of Nexus, said: “Everything went very well. Some of the buses during the peak period were busy, as we expected, but the system coped well.”

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