Storm Arwen: Metro workers pull off their biggest ever recovery operation 

Storm Arwen - Tyne and Wear Metro disruption
29 November 2021

Metro workers mounted their biggest ever recovery operation to restore services in the wake of Storm Arwen.

Nexus, the public body which owns and manages Metro, said that maintenance teams had worked a miracle to repair the extensive damage inflicted by the storm – the worst to hit Metro in 41 years of operations. 

The dedication of the frontline workforce meant that by this morning the bulk of the Metro network was back up and running for customers as usual.

The storm, which hit on Friday night and in the early hours of Saturday morning, halted the entire Metro system. Nexus crews had to deal with fallen trees and downed overhead wires in multiple locations, after 90mph gales battered North East England.

It was a recovery operation which involved working around the clock in freezing weather conditions.

Chief Operating Officer at Nexus, Martin Kearney, said: “This was one of the worst winter storms to hit the Tyne and Wear Metro in its history, but our maintenance teams rose to the challenge magnificently, pulling off our biggest every recovery operation.

“My thanks go to our customers for their patience during that period of major disruption. And my thanks go to all of our employees who have worked so hard, both during and after Storm Arwen had hit.

“They’ve really worked a miracle given the unprecedented scale of the damage that they found. 

“It’s testament to their skill, dedication and professionalism that we have been able to get the system back on its feet so quickly, and in time for the start of the working week. 

“The big challenge was having to undertake repairs at so many different sites. There were fallen trees at seven locations and it caused power lines to be torn down. In some instances more than just one tree had fallen on to the tracks. Resources were stretched like never before.

“The storm led to an unprecedented number of trees falling across Metro lines.  We are already in discussion with the Department for Transport about the future funding required for Nexus to continue to maintain and renew Metro’s infrastructure, and the way we manage vegetation forms a key part of that ask, so we can ensure that ageing trees do not undermine the safe and reliable operation of our system.

“Our people are used to working in all kinds of weather, but the freezing conditions in the aftermath of the gales were particularly brutal, and yet they got through an astonishing workload on Saturday and on Sunday. I’m proud of them."

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Nexus Chief Operating Officer - Martin Kearney

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