<tr><th style="background:#ddf; white-space:nowrap;">Locale</th><td class="" style="">Tyne and WearEngland</td></tr><tr><th style="background:#ddf; white-space:nowrap;">Transit type</th><td class="" style="">Rapid transit</td></tr><tr><th style="background:#ddf; white-space:nowrap;">Began operation</th><td class="" style="">1980</td></tr><tr><th style="background:#ddf; white-space:nowrap;">System length</th><td class="" style="">77.7 km (48.3 mi)</td></tr><tr><th style="background:#ddf; white-space:nowrap;">No. of lines</th><td class="" style="">2</td></tr><tr><th style="background:#ddf; white-space:nowrap;">No. of stations</th><td class="" style="">60</td></tr><tr><th style="background:#ddf; white-space:nowrap;">Daily ridership</th><td class="" style="">129,000</td></tr><tr><th style="background:#ddf; white-space:nowrap;">Operator</th><td class="" style="">Nexus</td></tr> </table> Template:Tyne and Wear Metro The Tyne and Wear Metro (known locally as the Metro) is a light rail metro system based around Newcastle upon Tyne, Gateshead and Sunderland, in the metropolitan county of Tyne and Wear in North East England. The network opened in 1980, and in 2005-2006 provided 36.6 million public journeys on its route of nearly 78 kilometres (48 miles).[1] It is operated by the Tyne and Wear Passenger Transport Executive (TWPTE) using the trading name Nexus.[2]


The Metro is usually described as Britain's first modern light rail system. However, it can be considered a hybrid system, displaying elements of light rail, heavy underground metro, and longer-distance, higher speed suburban and interurban railway systems.

The Metro began operating in 1980, but was an evolutionary development, as it was a pioneering system in the use of existing rights-of-way to create a modern rail transit system,[3] linking them with purpose-built tunnels under central Newcastle and Gateshead. Much of the Metro's route was part of one of the world's first electric urban railway systems, which opened in 1904 on public passenger lines that were then already well established (see Tyneside Electrics).[4] The Metro alignment comprises most of two of the world's oldest passenger railways, the Newcastle & North Shields Railway (Metro between Chillingham Road and North Shields) and the Brandling Junction Railway (between Gateshead and Monkwearmouth, near the Stadium of Light), both opened in 1839, making the Metro arguably one of the world's oldest local rail transport systems. In the case of Metro's Chichester station, the route of an existing mineral railway was chosen instead of the previous passenger railway alignment, as it passed through a more heavily populated area than the previous High Shields station, This is also the oldest section of the Metro route, dating back to 1834.


With the opening of the Sunderland extension in 2002,[5] the Metro became the first UK system to implement a form of the Karlsruhe model, using track shared with mainline trains on the section between Pelaw and Sunderland.[6] The section from Sunderland to South Hylton was previously part of the Sunderland to Durham mainline, closed in the wake of the Beeching Axe in the 1960s, and was the second Metro segment to be built on a completely disused line, following on from the Newcastle International Airport extension, which was largely built on the former Ponteland branch line.[7]

When the Metro first opened, it was claimed to be part of the UK's first integrated public transport system. The Metro was intended to cover trunk journeys, while buses were reoriented toward shorter local trips, tightly integrated with the Metro schedule, to bring passengers to and from the Metro stations, using unified ticketing. Much was made of the Metro's interchange stations such as Four Lane Ends and Regent Centre, which combined a large parking facility with a bus and Metro station;[8] this distinction is no longer emphasised. Some passengers complained that the Metro integration was pursued overzealously, and for example, bus passengers to Newcastle Upon Tyne would be forced to change to the Metro in Gateshead for a short trip, rather than have the bus route continue for a short distance further into Newcastle. Integration lasted until deregulation of bus routes in 1986. However, it is still possible to buy Transfare tickets that combine a Metro and bus journey.

News and issuesEdit

  • The Metro has been the subject of criticism from environmental campaigners as it does not permit the carriage of standard bicycles, though there are now storage lockers for these at some stations. Only small folding bicycles are now permitted on the Metro.
  • There has been much speculation on the rising prices of tickets over the years and it is thought that this is simply to compensate for fare evaders.[citation needed]
  • The Metro long had a problem with fare evasion on the system, due to the lack of ticket inspectors on the trains. In recent years, the number of inspectors has increased, and in 2005 the penalty fare for travelling without a valid ticket was increased from £10 to £20.[9]
  • Northumberland Park Metro station, costing a total of £7.5 million[10] opened on 11 December 2005 and serves a new housing development between Shiremoor and the A19 Holystone Interchange, and is located adjacent to existing track between Palmersville and Shiremoor on the northern loop section of the yellow line. It also acts as a feeder station for Nexus' R19 bus service, supporting Cobalt Park business park, the Silverlink Retail park, and North Shields.
  • The "Stand clear of the doors please" announcement, which sounded before the doors started to close, was introduced in 1991. In 1996, a contest was held in which several mystery celebrities recorded the phrase, with a prize awarded for correct identification; these recordings were replaced by staff announcements after the contest ended. In order to increase the clarity of the announcement (especially for individuals not fluent in English) the phrase was replaced with "Doors closing" in 2004.
  • In May 2007, an elderly woman on a mobility scooter entered the Metro on one side and crashed through the opposite doors falling onto the track.[1] Nexus stated that the doors had not been faulty and that this was the first occasion in 27 years that a set of doors had been forced open.
  • On 17 October 2007 services were suspended between Benton and Shiremoor due to track subsidence to the east of Northumberland Park. This appears to have occurred due to the collapse of a disused mineshaft near the station with services suspended for a number of days for remedial work to make the area safe.[11]

Rolling stockEdit

The design of the Metrocars was partly derived from that of the German Stadtbahnwagen B, although the Metrocars were built by Metro-Cammell in Birmingham (now part of Alstom). Prior to opening, the Metro's two prototypes (numbered 4001 and 4002; they are still in service) underwent several years of testing at the Metro's own test track on North Tyneside, opened in 1975. The track was also used to test cars for the Hong Kong MTR, also built by Metro-Cammell. However, to accommodate the larger size of the Hong Kong cars, a short above ground test tunnel had to be demolished. The test track was built on the route of an old mineral wagonway, and it is now home to the Stephenson Railway Museum.

The Metro uses the line voltage of 1500 V DC, which was previously used on the Woodhead Line but is now unique in Britain. Metro has a rated top speed of 80 km/h (50 mph), which it attains on the rural stretches of the line. The vehicles have a minimum turning radius of 50 metres (55 yds), although there are no curves this tight on the system, except for the non-passenger service chord between Manors and West Jesmond.[citation needed]

During the early years of Metro, cars were operated in single and double sets. As single set cars became overcrowded Nexus (operator of the system) resumed to using two cars as standard.[12] Single sets are used today, but only to operate the new Sunday service. Single cars became common during construction of the Sunderland extension when some units were taken for testing of the new track.

File:Tyne and Wear Metro Orthographic.jpg
File:Tyne and Wear Metro Capacity and Saloon.jpg



The Metro system currently consists of two lines:

Originally there was also a Red line that ran between Pelaw and Benton, and a Blue line that ran between St James and North Shields. Additional trains ran on these lines during peak hours to increase the service frequency at the busier stations; they also made sense in the context of the extensions that were mooted at the time the Metro was opened. Many of these additional services still operate today, but are now considered Yellow line services.

Template:See also

Notable featuresEdit

File:Wallsend platfom 2 02.jpg
  • The Tyne and Wear Metro was the first railway in the UK to operate using the metric system; all its speeds and distances are measured in metric units only.
  • Smoking has been forbidden on the entire system since service began; this was one of the first comprehensive smoking bans.[15]
  • A large-scale public artwork by Nayan Kulkarni, Nocturne, consisting of a moving kaleidoscope of light travelling along the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge (which carries the Metro between Newcastle and Gateshead) was inaugurated in April 2007.
  • Before tunnelling could begin, several disused mineshafts in Newcastle and Gateshead, some of them hundreds of years old, had to be completely filled in.
  • Although the Metro opened in 1980, most of its route was previously part of one of the world's first electric suburban railways, which began service in 1904.
  • The Metro is the first underground train network in the UK to install repeaters allowing customers to use their mobile phone in tunnels, an achievement that is being closely watched by the London Underground.
  • The Metro pioneered the playing of classical music in some of its stations, which had a positive effect on reducing vandalism on the premises. In 2005 the London Underground began to follow the Metro's example.[17]
  • For many years, the Metro was the only rapid-transit system in the world with a "pretzel" configuration in which a line crosses over itself and trains pass through the same station twice at different platforms, as yellow line trains do at Monument Station. It was joined by the Vancouver SkyTrain in Canada and the RandstadRail tram system in the Netherlands in 2006. Toronto had previously experimented with a pretzel configuration in 1966.[18]
  • The Metro network employs a variant of the Karlsruhe model between Pelaw and Sunderland, which means it shares tracks with heavy rail freight and passenger services, so-called because of its initial use in the city of Karlsruhe where the cities trams operate on conventional railways lines.[19] Freight trains already used the Metro infrastructure from Bank Foot to Benton stations for the first decade of operations.
  • Metro is one of the few systems where the names of people convicted to fines for not paying their fare (fare dodgers or losers as they were referred to as on the original signs) are shown on posters entitled "Names and Shames" in the stations in a kind of shameful exposure somewhat comparable to the stocks.

Opening datesEdit

Tyne & Wear Metro
File:Tyne and Wear Metro logo.jpg </span>
Year From To Via
11 August 1980 Tynemouth Haymarket Whitley Bay, South Gosforth
10 May 1981 South Gosforth Bank Foot Fawdon
15 November 1981 Haymarket Heworth Monument
14 November 1982 St. James Tynemouth Monument, Wallsend and North Shields
24 March 1984 Heworth South Shields Pelaw, Jarrow
15 September 1985 Kingston Park
16 September 1985 Pelaw
19 March 1986 Palmersville
17 November 1991 Bank Foot Newcastle Airport
31 March 2002 Pelaw South Hylton Sunderland
11 December 2005 Newcastle Airport South Hylton and St. James to South Shields[20]
11 December 2005 Northumberland Park
17 March 2008 Simonside

Current issuesEdit

Timetable constraintsEdit

Since the opening of the Sunderland extension, Nexus found that the standard of service across the Metro network fell. This was mainly due to Network Rail stipulations requiring Metro services to be timetabled at least three minutes apart from the mainline trains at Pelaw and Sunderland. The stipulations mean that it is difficult for Metro services to run to a regular timetable.

As a result of the above, Nexus decided to reduce the number of mainline services between Sunderland and Newcastle from 36 per day to 22, this was effective from 11 December 2005. This allows Metro trains to run at evenly spaced 12-minute intervals throughout the day between Sunderland and Newcastle.

Poor patronage on Sunderland extensionEdit

The patronage on the section of the route between Park Lane and South Hylton has failed to meet targets. In 20042005 fewer than half the passengers predicted to use the service between these two points did so. In addition, passenger numbers have fallen on this section since 20032004. This has led Nexus to introduce a 50% reduction in services between Park Lane and South Hylton, again effective from December 2005. One possible reason for the lack of patronage is that there are only four stations on this section of route, therefore the vast majority of people living in Sunderland would have to first take a bus, then a Metro or mainline Train. The line also runs along the south bank of the River Wear, further limiting its catchment area. Park Lane's westbound platform is now used only for through trains to South Hylton. Those trains which terminate at Park Lane cross over onto the northbound platform for passengers to alight.

Corporate identity and liveryEdit

From the beginning, the Metro system employed a distinctive design and corporate identity, in part to distinguish itself from the decrepit rail system it replaced, but also to match the livery of the bus system then in use. The Calvert typeface, used for signage and in printed materials, was designed specifically for the Metro by Margaret Calvert. The corporate identity was revised in 1998, de-emphasising the Calvert font, and adding the word Metro to its M logo.

The Metro fleet was initially painted in a two-tone livery of cadmium yellow and white that matched the Metro station design of the time, as well as the livery of the Tyne and Wear bus fleet until 1986. In the mid-1990s a new colour scheme was introduced, with Metrocars painted solid red, green, or blue, with a yellow wedge at each end and yellow triangles on the doors. This scheme was modified slightly in 2005, in part to comply with safety regulations (the doors are now solid yellow). In addition, many Metrocars have carried full-body advertising. The initial prototype (no. 4001) has been repainted in its initial yellow-and-beige livery (see image above)

The futureEdit


Haymarket Station renovationEdit

Further plans call for Haymarket station in Newcastle city centre to be renovated as part of an overall improvement of the site; it will include leisure and retail facilities. Renovation started in 2008.[21]

Further coverage by the MetroEdit

In 2002 Nexus unveiled an expansion plan that would extend the Metro system by adding new sections using street running, this changing the Metro into a high-end tram system. Nexus argued that this would provide a cost-effective way to introduce rail service to parts of Tyne and Wear the current Metro services did not reach. The plan listed a number of routes, not all of which were to be built as rail lines; transitional bus services were envisioned that could be replaced by trams as demand increased. However, the original Project Orpheus has been abandoned, possibly because of the government's present "value-for-money" policies for public transport. This increased scrutiny has affected expansion plans for other light-rail systems such as Manchester Metrolink, where an expansion scheme was halted even after construction had begun. Critics have said that Government policies now overtly favour bus schemes. A Metro link to Washington failed to gain Government backing, despite the existence of substantial railway rights of way to both Pelaw and Sunderland; preliminary support was offered only to a guided bus scheme.

Doubling of single-track sectionEdit

Another project, to remove the last section of single track in the Metro system, between Pelaw and Bede, would cost around £12 million, and would allow freight trains to use the Metro infrastructure. Again, the Government has expressed doubts as to whether it considers this would be cost-effective. This however is included in a revised Project Orpheus. Along with the improvements to the current system, a Tyne and Wear Metro improvement and regeneration project is currently proposed with plans outlined in the Adobe external links document. As of 2005, there has been discussion of a public-private partnership to raise the funds necessary to modernise the Metro system.

Suggested extensionsEdit


Currently Considered suggestions:

  • Tyne Dock to East Boldon along one of two dismantled railway alignments could easily be added, as only a short distance lies between two Metro lines. This provides a service from South Shields direct to Sunderland City Centre via the Whiteleas area of South Shields. Suggested by the South Tyneside Local Development Framework and reported by local newspaper the Shields Gazette in January 2008.

Among extensions proposed at various times, none of which is currently being considered, are:

  • Washington, either via the disused Leamside Line or a new route. Present planning may lead to the Leamside Line being opened as a conventional passenger rail line instead. The government favours guided-bus service to Washington.
  • Blyth & Ashington, running on existing little-used freight lines. Northumberland Park station is being built to provide a link to a potential new rail service to these communities; if opened, it will not be a part of the Metro system.
  • Killingworth and Cramlington have been planned since Metro was on the drawing board, but would require widening of the busy East Coast main line to four tracks, which would be expensive, or a new alignment involving street running.
  • The West End of Newcastle would require entirely new track involving tunneling and bridging in rough terrain; this would be very costly and is perhaps least likely to receive funding, though would probably have the highest potential ridership.
  • Ryhope, in southern Sunderland, has been mooted as an extension using existing railway lines. This route is under criticism at present due to the further reduction in Northern Rail services that would likely have to follow.

Seaham - a proposal was drawn up by Tyne and Wear Passenger Authority to extend Metro southbound to Seaham. The suggested connection to Seaham would run on a section of the existing Durham coast line, south of Sunderland.

External linksEdit


See alsoEdit

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