Nexus is to embark on one of the biggest and most complex modernisation projects in the history of the Tyne and Wear Metro this summer, meaning the busiest section of line will be closed for 27 consecutive days.
The multi-million pound works involve a major line closure between Haymarket, Airport and Four Lane Ends, 4-30 August. This will be the longest line closure since Metro began in 1980.
Frequent replacement bus services will be provided during the line closure, calling at or near stations on the affected route and there will be an Airport shuttle bus and extra Metro trains around the coast.
The work is a key part of the £385m Metro: all change modernisation programme, a once in a generation investment to ensure the region has a reliable Metro system for many decades to come.
Six kilometres of track will be replaced between Jesmond and South Gosforth, a section of line that sees 30,000 passengers journeys each day, 450 train movements and a service every three minutes in peak periods.
Stations will be refurbished and cable routes replaced on the line all the way up to Newcastle Airport.
The work is happening in August because schools are closed and because it is the one month of the year that sees the lowest number of Metro passengers. When completed it will be the last period of weekday Metro closures for a whole year.
When the line closure begins there will be no trains between Airport and Haymarket or Four Lane Ends and Haymarket, a period of 27 days.
There will be extra trains between from Four Lane Ends via the coast to St James to provide people living in North Tyneside with an alternative route to Newcastle city centre. There will also be peak time Metros operating to Longbenton station.
Trains will still be frequent between Haymarket, South Shields, and South Hylton, but additional rush hour trains normally running will be cancelled.
Director General of Nexus, Bernard Garner, said: “August will see one of the biggest and most complex pieces of modernisation work in Metro’s history. I apologise to Metro users who will experience the disruption it will cause.
“The major line closure means there will be no trains on the busiest part of the Metro system for 27 days. We have picked the quietest possible time of the year to do the work, with the schools off and generally fewer passengers using the system during August.
“This is a once in a generation piece of modernisation work which can only be done during an extended closure period. It will mean we can deliver a high quality Metro service for the next 50 years.
“We will ensure there is a fast and reliable replacement bus service running when the line is shut. We advise passengers to plan their journeys in advance before travelling.”
Nexus Rail Director, Raymond Johnstone, said: “It is vital that we replace the track between Jesmond and South Gosforth. The tracks on this busy stretch of line date back to the late 1960s. To ensure Metro’s reliability for passengers it is essential we replace this ageing part of the network.
“Passengers will notice a smoother ride when the work is done, while the wider modernisation projects add up to a more dependable service.
“The scale of the works we are undertaking means that a 27 day closure is the only realistic option. We will be working around the clock during this period, all the way from Haymarket to Newcastle Airport. The line between Haymarket and South Gosforth will see the bulk of the modernisation work.”
In order to deliver the major line closure Nexus will set up two work site compounds in Newcastle, one at Fawdon in Gosforth and one at Manors, close to Newcastle city centre.
When the major line closure ends on 30 August, Nexus will be doing far fewer line closures through the autumn and winter, with the number of hours of planned works were cut by half this year.
A further but much shorter line closure will be needed within the next two years on the same stretch to renew the 150-year-old embankment along the track.
Information and updates will also be on the My Metro Twitter page and the Tyne and Wear Metro Facebook page.
Passengers can also get information by calling the Nexus Customer Service Centre 0191 20 20 747.