PHILIP SHERRATT reports on North East Transport Executive Nexus’s plans for new trains and infrastructure investment for the Tyne & Wear Metro
Like all urban rail systems, the Tyne & Wear Metro is vital to the region it serves. It carries 40 million passengers every year on a 77.5km network stretching across Tyneside and southwards to Sunderland.
The Metro opened in 1980 as an urban people mover to replace much less frequent DMU services on routes across South and North Tyneside. At the time it was viewed as revolutionary, using light rail technology to transform the system; the trains are one-third lighter than a conventional EMU and are powered by a 1,500V DC overhead supply.
Two extensions have since followed, to Newcastle Airport (opened in 1991) and to Sunderland and South Hylton. Opened in 2002, this involves the Metro sharing Network Rail infrastructure from Pelaw to Sunderland, interworking with both passenger and freight services.