Work has started on a £100m track dualling scheme that will increase service frequency, reduce journey times, and improve reliability on the Tyne and Wear Metro.
It comes ahead of a planned major line closure later this year.
The Metro Flow project will see an existing freight line upgraded and electrified in South Tyneside, making it capable of carrying Metro services, boosting the capacity for an extra 24,000 customer journeys every day.
Works have started on the installation of the overhead line to run on the new Metro lines.
It is to alleviate the impact of a major line closure between Pelaw and South Shields from September until December.
When the line is closed an enhanced replacement bus service will be put on in the affected area, providing customers with a frequent bus service.
A total of £95m has been secured from the Government’s Transforming Cities Fund, allowing Metro operator Nexus to deliver the scheme, which will cost £103m in total.
Head of Metro Flow, Tom Hardwick, said: “This month marks a step-change in the delivery of the Metro Flow project, which will transform Metro by allowing Nexus to increase the service frequency systemwide.
“Customers and our Neighbours will start to see the delivery of the first of the new overhead line masts which will be installed in the trial holes currently being dug on site.
“While the majority of the works will be completed during two-weekend closers at the end of June and beginning of July followed by a 12-week major line closure in September, the team will be working every night when trains are not running in order to minimise disruption to our customers as much as possible.”
Nexus says the project will increase the frequency of trains outside central areas, improve support for major events such as the Great North Run and open up the possibility of further expansion of the Metro system in the future.
The funding for the Metro Flow project also allows Nexus to buy four more new trains on top of the 42 which have already been ordered.
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