Metro Flow

Track image

The Metro Flow project will see an existing freight line upgraded and electrified in South Tyneside from September 2022, making it capable of carrying Metro services, boosting the capacity for an extra 24,000 passenger journeys every day.

Three sections of single track totalling three kilometres will be dualled between Pelaw and Bede Metro stations.

Benefits of the Metro Flow project include:

•    Increasing the frequency of Metro trains to one every 10 minutes outside central areas

•    Deliver capacity for an extra 24,000 passengers a day

•    Improve reliability and allow quicker recovery from major disruptions

•    Better support for major events including the Great North Run, Sunderland International Airshow, stadium concerts, and major sporting events

•    Unlock the door to the expansion of the Metro system

There are three single-track sections on the Metro network, where trains must use the same line in both directions.

The sections of line are located between Pelaw and Hebburn (800 metres), Hebburn and Jarrow (1.4km) and Jarrow and Bede (600 metres).

These pinch points are the only remaining sections of the Metro network that is like this and it is something that is highly unusual for a mass transit system.

Single track sections effectively creates a traffic light problem - with drivers having to wait for the green light each time they make a journey along these sections of single track.

Because this is already one of the busiest rail networks in the UK anything more than an extra few seconds can cause knock-on delays right across the Metro network.

With so little slack in the system it also makes it difficult for Metro to expand with little headroom in timetables to add additional stops and new routes.

By converting the three outstanding sections to dual tracks Nexus can solve this problem.

The Metro Flow project is something Nexus has done before. Metro was created and then expanded by upgrading neglected rail routes to create a modern mass transit system.

This project would see an infrequently used freight line upgraded and electrified so both Metro and freight trains could share the route in future - just as they do in other parts of the Metro network right now.

 

Frequently asked questions

Metro Flow will mean more frequent trains, more space for passengers and smoother and shorter journey times.

Metro has some small areas of single-track South of the Tyne (around Pelaw, Bede, Hebburn and Jarrow) which hinders the movement of trains around the system.  These ‘single track’ sections make it very difficult to plan the expansion of Metro as trains must be timetabled precisely to meet available slots at either end, with little headroom for additional stops or to integrate new routes.

The Metro Flow Project seeks to resolve this issue by converting an under-used national freight line, owned by Network Rail, to take Metro trains as well.  Nexus will convert the line through installation of overhead power supplies and appropriate signalling which will allow Metro and the Freight traffic to share the track, as happens now between Pelaw and Sunderland. 

The project is designed to realise the full potential of Metro through more frequent and reliable services, with more capacity to meet the needs of the region’s growing economy so improving accessibility, driving productivity and enhancing our environment.  It will provide: 

  • Enhanced frequency: trains every 10 minutes from 7.00am to 7.00pm network wide.
  • Increased capacity: up to an increase of 24,000 spaces per day on the network.
  • Improved resilience: solving the traffic light problem and improved performance.
  • Improved integration: shorter waiting and journey times for those interchanging with Metro.
  • Delivering over £350 million of economic benefits across the North East.
  • Remove 3 million car kms per year from the road, improving air quality by reducing CO2 emissions by 500,000kg and NO2 by 40,000kg per year and generating wider health benefits.
  • Provide the foundation for Future Growth.

The scheme will unlock three key pinch points on the current network where trains now use the same line in both directions – with drivers waiting for a green light like motorists facing temporary roadworks on every trip. (Anything more than a few seconds’ additional wait for an oncoming train at each section can have a knock-on impact leading to delays elsewhere).

An increase in the frequency of Metro trains from 12 minutes to 10 minutes frequency between 7.00am and 7.00pm. This intern will provide capacity for an additional 24,000 passenger journeys a day on the busy urban rail system and make travel by Metro a more attractive choice for commuters and leisure users.

Yes, we have a new fleet on the way and we originally ordered 42 ‘full length’ new vehicles (equivalent to 84 of our existing 90 Metro cars).  We have ordered a further 4 trains from Stadler, our contractor for the manufacture of our new fleet.  With adding four more trains to our original order this has increased the reliability and capacity for an extra 24,000 passengers every day.

Yes, Metro Flow and the extra trains will allow for a more frequent service, moving from every 12 minutes to 10 minutes throughout the majority of the day. A new timetable will be introduced once all of the new fleet is in service.  We will be working closely with Network Rail on the new timetable.

Yes.  The dualling of single track removes pinch points in the network.  This will complement the new fleet resulting in a much more reliable service for our customers.

Yes - The improved integration of services means shorter waiting and journey times for those interchanging with Metro.

To allow two-way traffic to flow and ease the pinch-points we will have to remove and replace some of the heavy rail.  We will also be fitting overhead lines onto the Network Rail sections which Metro will need to use. Adjustments to track height will be required in some areas to accommodate the overhead lines and freight train under the existing bridges.  This will involve removal and replacement of ballast and track to a reduced level at the overbridge locations and reduction in platform levels at Hebburn and Jarrow Metro stations

The works will adopt the adjacent Network Rail freight line to remove the three remaining sections of single track on the Metro network at Bill Quay, between Hebburn and Jarrow Metro stations and from Jarrow to the A19 overbridge crossing.

No. However, we are likely to make some adjustments to the platform height at Jarrow and Hebburn stations to accommodate the freight trains.

No.

Nexus have appointed Buckingham Group Construction Ltd to carry out the works.

There will be a 12-week closure of the line between Pelaw and South Shields immediately following the Great North Run 2022 along with two weekend closures, one in late June and one in early July 2022.  This method of delivery was preferred to multiple weekend closures over a 1-2 year period to complete the work, which would extend the disrupted period and significantly increase costs.

Yes.  Our main compound site will be on land adjoining the Metro lines at Wardley Lane near Pelaw. Smaller compounds will be accommodated around Hebburn, Jarrow, Pelaw and Bede Metro stations.

The compounds will receive most of the materials initially by road.  However, Nexus will encourage the contractor to utilise deliveries from the wider Network Rail infrastructure where it is practical to do so.

Neighbours will experience some increase in noise levels over and above the regular track maintenance work which we currently carry out.  The work will be carried out 24/7 for the 12 weeks.  We looked at the option of closing lines on weekends only but this would require 42 weekends of closures this was considered to be more disruptive to our lineside neighbours than the relatively short and intense programme adopted.  The frequency and intensity of works and associated noise will vary as the works travel along the rail corridor.   

Nexus.

Nexus has already undertaken detailed environmental surveys of the area and to date have not identified any major areas of impact for local residents and the surrounding habitats.  None the less, the chosen contractor will be required to provide an Environmental Management Plan for the Project showing how it will comply with relevant environmental legislation and codes of practice.

The works will take approximately 12 months to deliver between February 2022 and February 2023.  Most of the work will be undertaken during a 12-week blockade between September and December 2022.

The main compound works commenced in January 2022 with winter season activities due to commence mid-January such as vegetation clearance.

 

We will do as much as possible during the day.  However, there will be enabling work carried out during night working where Metro operations make it impossible to avoid.  We will make sure neighbours are given plenty of notice when this is the case.

Videos

The Metro Flow project explained

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