All change at Newcastle Metro
Two major modernisation projects which form part of Newcastle’s £350m Metro All Change modernisation programme have transformed the city’s s rail transport system.
The projects include the re-railing of the Metro tunnels beneath the city centre and the modernisation of Central Metro station.
Nexus, the public body which owns, manages and is modernising the Tyne and Wear Metro, has completed a £3m programme to replace the tracks in the iconic tunnels that run deep beneath the streets of Newcastle.
Four kilometres of track has been successfully replaced in the tunnels which run from Jesmond to the QEII Metro bridge across the Tyne. Star Ceilings South West Ltd (SCSW) designed and installed the vitreous enamel system for the rebranding works at Central Metro Station.
All work on the project was carried out entirely during night shifts to ensure no disruption to Metro services on the busiest section of the system.
Cllr Nick Forbes, Lead Member for Transport on the North East Combined Authority, said: “The Metro tunnels are a vital transport link for our region so this modernisation work is extremely welcome. Strong rail links are essential to the strength of the regional economy.”
Director of Rail and Infrastructure for Nexus, Raymond Johnstone, said: “We have invested £3m in the iconic Metro tunnels that run below the streets of Newcastle to ensure that can carry Metro trains for many decades to come.
“Our staff have carried out all of the work in stages, during the small hours of the morning, so passengers won’t even have that known that it was taking place. This has meant no planned disruptions to services through the busiest section of the Metro system.
“The tunnels are a challenging environment to work in but the project itself was straight forward as the actual track beds are concrete and they didn’t need to be replaced like in the other parts of the system which are over ground.
“I’m also delighted that Nexus was able to deliver this work in-house, using our own staff and equipment.”
Works in the Metro tunnels took place between 12am and 4.30am, the hours when Metro services are not in operation.
The track was carefully replaced in stages. Workers bolted sections of new rail on to concrete sleepers. The new rails were then clamped and welded together.
It is the first time that the rails in Metro’s city centre tunnels have been entirely replaced since the system opened to passengers in August 1980.
The Metro tunnels beneath the streets of Newcastle were bored out in the late 1970s and were built specially to carry Metro trains through the city centre towards Gateshead and South Tyneside.
Also carried out for Nexus was a £6m scheme to revamp the Metro ticket hall and platforms at Central Station – a key regional gateway in Newcastle.
Work at the station, which is used by 5.3 million passengers a year, was carried out by Tolent and included improvements to accessibility, information and waiting facilities, as well as a bright new look.
Like Haymarket, rebuilt in 2009, Central Station now has a predominantly white interior, with feature walls picked out in an accent colour, helping assist passenger navigation.
Improvements to the passenger waiting areas and platforms include new way-finding signage on new vitreous enamel panels.
New seating, which includes benches and renewed perch seats, and brighter lighting was installed along with tactile paving to assist passengers with visual impairments.
Cllr Joyce McCarty, Newcastle’s representative on the Transport North East committee, said: “Already people in Newcastle have seen the Central Station transformed into an impressive and welcoming gateway to the city. This work is the result of £10m worth of investment from a partnership of Newcastle City Council, NE1, Virgin Trains East Coast and Network Rail, with another £14m still to come for further works.
“The modernisation of the Metro concourse and platforms is an absolutely vital scheme that further showcases the city to visitors.”
Stonhard installs new look floors at Central Station Newcastle
Newcastle Central Station is the region’s major commuter hub used by 5.3 million passengers each year. Paul Wilson of Tolent Construction was the Project Manager in charge of a £6 million revamp of this iconic station.
Mr Wilson explains: “In 2009, we delivered a complete overhaul of the Haymarket Station, operated by Nexus. The project was a success and Haymarket is now a flagship station for the whole network which is undergoing an 11-year long modernisation programme. As Stonhard manufactured and installed the flooring at the Haymarket as well as the Sunderland stations, they were pre-approved flooring suppliers for the revamp of the Central Station.”
The work began in September 2015. Nexus’ key requirement was to minimise the disruption to their passengers. Mr Wilson adds: “Stonhard had only five allocated weekends when the station was closed and they could install the flooring at two platforms, ticket halls, internal and external staircases and upper and lower concourses. All the preparation work had to be done in the week during the night shifts. The commitment of the Stonhard lads to get the job done was amazing! They did not stop!”
“I’m pleased to say that in the one and a half years we were on site, we never once failed to handover the station for use by the public. This is also thanks to Stonhard’s professionalism and preparation. I would not hesitate to recommend them,” concludes Mr Wilson.