Nexus, which owns, manages and is modernising the Tyne and Wear Metro, is to invest £40m in modernisation work over the next 12 months.
The work will focus on Metro track replacement, station refurbishment and essential new technology.
The modernisation will include:
• The completed refurbishment of the Metro train fleet
• Track replacement on the QEII Bridge across the river Tyne and between Tynemouth and Northumberland Park stations
• A new Rail Traffic Management System (RTMS) in the Metro Control Room
• The modernisation of Central Station’s Metro ticket hall and platforms
• Station modernisation work at Heworth, Felling and Gateshead Stadium
• A new digital radio system for the Metro train fleet
• A key track junction replaced at Regent Centre
The work forms part of the £389m Metro: all change modernisation programme, a Government-funded scheme to modernise the Tyne and Wear Metro which began in 2010.
Director of Rail and Infrastructure for Nexus, Raymond Johnstone, said: “We have £40m of investment lined up over the next 12 months as part of our Metro modernisation programme.
“The main thing passengers will notice is the station refurbishment work at Central Station and at three of our stations in Gateshead.
“The track replacement work on the North Tyneside coastal loop in 2016 will be extremely significant and is vital to keep Metro running for many decades to come.
“There is also going to be investment in new technology. The new radio system for our trains will be much more reliable and effective. The new technology for our Metro control room is a major development behind the scenes.”
Nexus will be pressing ahead with this work over the remainder of the year, having earlier completed a major project to replace the tracks on the QEII Metro bridge spanning the River Tyne.
The refurbishment of Central Station is due to begin in the autumn to provide improvements to accessibility, information and waiting facilities as well as giving the station a bright new look.
Like Haymarket, rebuilt in 2009, Central Station will feature a predominantly white interior with feature walls picked out in a feature colour, helping assist passenger navigation. Subject to the necessary approvals, the works will be part funded from the Government’s Single Local Growth Fund.
The modernisation work at Felling and Gateshead Stadium Metro stations will start in July with works at Heworth expected to commence in December. The work will see all three stations given a fresh new look, with improved seating and lighting. It will bring the stations up to modern standards of accessibility and provide a better waiting environment with a new colour scheme.
The new radio system is being installed in the driver’s cabs on Metro’s fleet of 90 trains and in the Metro Control Room at South Gosforth in Newcastle.
The new technology will replace an analogue radio system which has been in use since the early 1990s.
The installation of a new Rail Traffic Management System (RTMS) is the single biggest single investment in new technology for the Metro Control Room since it began operations in 1980. The RTMS system tracks the progress of trains across the Metro system.
The installation work will not mean any disruption to Metro services.
The track replacement work between Tynemouth and Northumberland Park is the biggest programme of track replacement since the line between Jesmond and South Gosforth was completely renewed in August 2013. The work is scheduled to happen in two stages in March 2016 and July of 2016.
The track junction on the Metro line at Regent Centre in Newcastle will be replaced in July and August during four weekend line closures.
Nexus is planning further redevelopment work at Sunderland Station, working in partnership with Sunderland Council and Network Rail. These works will complement the improvements made to the sub-surface station in 2010.