Major works are taking place to get station platforms are ready for the new Metro train fleet and its revolutionary sliding step at each door.
Nexus, the public body which owns and manages Metro, is carrying out platform compliance work at 40 out of its 60 stations as part of a £2m programme.
It involves tracks being adjusted so that the new Metro trains will fit smoothly into station platforms.
Tracks are being either lowered or heightened to ensure that they are at the correct gauge for the new rolling stock, which is set to arrive in 2023.
Works have already taken place at Bede station on the South Shields line and at Hadrian Road in North Tyneside.
The focus over the next three weekends will be on the line between Airport and Wansbeck Road. The track will be lowered at five locations using an excavator, while track needs to be raised at seven locations using a track tamping machine.
Major Projects Director at Nexus, Cathy Massarella, said: “This is a vital project to ensure that our stations are ready for the new Metro trains. This is all part of the half billion pounds Nexus is investing to transform Metro before 2025.
“We need to adjust the height of the tracks at 40 of our stations so that the when the new trains roll into service in 2023 they interface perfectly with station platforms.
“Works are being carried out at weekends or are being fitted in alongside other modernisation projects over the next two years in order to keep the disruption to a minimum.
“The new trains will have a sliding step to making boarding easy, all but eliminating the gap between train and platform edge, but we still need to ensure the we are ready for the transition to the new fleet.”
Stadler is building a total of 42 new Metro trains for Nexus, which will be delivered up to 2024. They will be responsible for servicing and maintaining these trains for 35 years, underscoring their commitment to the regional economy.
The trains, which will be 15 times more reliable and will cut energy consumption by 30%, will have modern features including charging points, air conditioning and a step-change in accessibility.
Among new features will be an automatic sliding step at every door of the new trains, making travel easier for Metro’s 50,000 wheelchair passengers as well as people with children’s buggies, luggage or bicycles.
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 30,000 passenger journeys every day.
Metro Flow was given the green light by the Chancellor Rishi Sunak in the Budget. The funding of £95m from the Government’s Transforming Cities Fund, will allow Nexus to deliver a scheme costing £103m in total.