Nexus, the public body which owns and manages Metro, is renewing Metro’s overhead lines as part of the £350m Metro all change modernisation programme.
A total of 106 kilometres of wire is being replaced in a rolling programme, which is one of the biggest maintenance projects ever undertaken on Metro.
Managing Director of Nexus, Tobyn Hughes, said: “Over the last nine years Nexus has spent £300m renewing the infrastructure of the Metro system and this project renewing overhead lines is one of the biggest in all of that.
“It is about £20m in total and it will take several years to get across the system renewing these overhead wires.
“We always try to do this work at weekends because there are fewer passengers using the system and not as many people travelling to work.
“I understand that it causes some disruption for customers and we always try to make closures as short as possible and to provide a good replacement bus service when there are lines affected, but it is necessary to make sure that the Metro system is fit for the future.”
The project is being delivered solely through weekend working.
In a single weekend run of works a one kilometre stretch of new wire can be installed.
Overhead lines are used to conduct electricity to trains. Without them the trains simply wouldn’t run.
These power lines have been there since the Tyne and Wear Metro was built – which is why this current renewal work is so essential.
Head of Renewals at Nexus, Stuart Clarke, is in charge of overseeing the project.
He said: “This is the same wire that was installed 40 years ago when Metro was first opened so it has become worn and more prone to failure.
“If it fails then that becomes disruptive to the services that we provide, so by renewing the wire this is an investment in helping to ensure that the Metro stays as reliable as possible for decades to come.
“The work involves the old wires being clipped and then taken down and then the new wire is put up. We then do a process called registration which involves getting the wire into the precise locations that it needs to be in before we do tests and assurances so that we can allow the trains to start running again.”