£385m will be invested in the modernisation of the Metro system in Tyne and Wear over the next eleven years.
The Metro: All Change scheme has been introduced by Nexus – Tyne and Wear’s Passenger Transport Executive – and will see the modernisation of trains and stations in order to improve journeys for passengers.
The Metro system is over 30 years old and serves 40 million passengers per year. The aim of the project is therefore to modernise and replace out-of-date systems and provide exciting new transport facilities.
Nexus has predicted that without the scheme, the Metro system would be no longer viable by 2018. This would have a direct effect on traffic, as without the Metro system Tyne and Wear’s roads would see an increase of 15 million more cars a year.
The first phase of Metro: All Change is currently underway and will include the replacement of 225 ticket machines and the installation of 91 ticket gates. This phase began in 2011 and will continue through 2012 at a cost of £25m.
As part of the project, over two hundred new ticket machines will be installed across sixty Metro stations. The machines will be compatible with credit and debit cards, as well as bank notes and coins. In addition, thirteen key Metro stations will receive electronic ticket barriers. These barriers will be similar to those used on the London underground and will utilise ‘smartcard’ technology, allowing passengers to either insert their tickets into machines or swipe a card reader.
Ninety Metro trains will be upgraded and train interiors in will be refitted in Doncaster. It is estimated that the interior upgrades will take five years to complete.
The rail infrastructure – including signals, level crossings, overhead lines and tracks -will benefit from the scheme, whilst the majority of the 60km of track will be entirely replaced.
A number of underground stations in Newcastle city centre will also receive a contemporary makeover and subsurface and station platforms will also be transformed by new floors, walls and ceilings.
Five construction companies have been awarded framework agreements to help deliver the project: BAM Nuttall, May Gurney, Balfour Beatty Rail Limited, Serco and Morgan Sindall. Funding for the project will be supplied by the government.
Nexus Director of Rail and Infrastructure, Ken Mackay, said: “These are exciting times for the Tyne and Wear Metro network.
“We are pressing ahead with our modernisation plans, which will yield a steep change in quality for the 40 million passengers that use Metro every year.
“We are investing in Metro’s long term future to ensure a brighter, cleaner and more modern transport system for the 21st century.”
He added: “The Government has committed capital funding of £350m over the next 11 years, with a local contribution of £30m to the project. There is an enormous amount to be done and it is a big challenge, but everyone at Nexus is ready to meet that challenge head on.
“The inward investment that Metro: All Change represents for the region is also protecting and securing jobs whilst improving the quality and benefits of public transport.”