Massive Metro Closure Planned in August
A massive closure will stop all Metro trains from Haymarket to the airport and Four Lane Ends next month. The Tyne and Wear Passenger Transport Executive, better known as Nexus, announced a modernisation plan that will shut down the busiest section of the system between August 4th and August 30th.
Reasons for the closure include the replacement of cable routes and refurbishments of stations. Nexus will also replace the tracks between Jesmond and South Gosforth.
The 27-day cessation will be the longest in Metro’s history since it began service in 1980. Bernard Garner, Director General of Nexus, apologises “to Metro users who will experience the disruption” but tells JesmondLocal “the once in a generation modernisation work will ensure a high quality Metro service for the next 50 years.”
Nexus will provide replacement buses along the affected routes and the ticketing system will remain unchanged. However, buses will mean people’s commutes are most likely slower. According to Nexus, a typical journey from Haymarket to the airport will now take 55 minutes instead of the usual 21.
“It’s not convenient for me because it takes longer and I have to get up earlier and go to work earlier every day,” Jeff Dorward, who lives in Benton and works in Gateshead as a software engineer, tells JesmondLocal.
Taking the bus also means extra transfers for some. This is the situation for Yi Shen, who is spending the summer at an internship for the Press Assocation, based near Newcastle’s St Nicholas’ Cathedral.
“I live in South Gosforth and take the Metro to Monument every morning,” she explains. “Now I have to take the bus to Haymarket first. There I’ll have to go down the steps and catch the train. I certainly need to set aside extra time for commuting in August.”
Associated businesses prepare for thousand-pound losses
For the businesses that operate in the stations or are otherwise dependent on the vast number of passengers each day, the extended closure signifies an inevitable lull.
Graham Abdy, owner of the grocery store in the Jesmond Station, said his shop will be seriously affected when passengers are gone. “I have been running this business for 12 years and we’ve never had a closure on this scale. There have been driver strikes before but they tended to be one day only. I am expecting thousands of pounds of loss.”
Nexus Rail Director, Raymond Johnstone, said: “The scale of the works we are undertaking means that a 27-day closure is the only realistic option.”
According to the Director General, Nexus has “picked the quietest possible time of the year to do the work, with the schools off and generally fewer passengers using the system during August”.
Abdy agrees: “August is always quiet for us and normally we just get by, but this time there will be no passengers, we just don’t know how to get by yet.”
For many others, August may not be such a good time at all. Charlie Brown, working at Fawdon, said that “with the football season starting soon, the closure might cause a lot of trouble for the fans, too.”
The proposed closure is part of the ‘Metro: all change’ modernisation plan, which will see an overall investment of £385 million over a number of years. Nexus hopes that “passengers will notice a smoother ride when the work is done, while the wider modernisation adds up to a more dependable service”.