Nexus, which owns, manages and is modernising Metro, has invested £175,000 to transform the lighting in the oldest tunnel on the network.
The 162 year-old North Shields tunnel, which was built by the Victorians, has been fitted with new fluorescent lighting to improve access for maintenance staff and deter vandalism.
Nexus recognised the need for improved lighting so that track and overhead line engineers could enjoy improved working conditions in the tunnel. This is crucial because Nexus will be carrying out a major project in 2010 to protect the tunnel from flooding problems during periods of heavy rain.
The lights, 178 in total, are mounted on the walls of the tunnel and run along its entire 1km length.
The project is part of the £300m Metro all change programme which will see the Metro system modernised, including stations, trains, tunnels, bridges and tracks.
Work to install the lights took 11 weeks and was finished eight weeks ahead of schedule. The contractors had to work during the night while the Metro system was out of service to get the job done.
Fitting the new lights involved completely stripping out the old ones and rewiring the tunnel to improve the power supply. The light fittings were then mounted to the tops of the opposite tunnel walls.
Nexus Rail Director, Raymond Johnstone, said: “It was essential that we invested £175,000 on this new lighting because North Shields tunnel is one of the oldest parts of the Metro network and its maintenance is of paramount importance.
“The improved lighting means that we can work much more effectively inside the tunnel. The lights are crucial for our plans to carry out drainage work to prevent flooding in the tunnel, which occurs during periods of very heavy rain.”