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Tyne-and-Wear Metro 2002 © UrbanRail.Net


Newcastle is the centre of the metropolitan county of Tyne and Wear which includes other towns like Gateshead, Sunderland or South Shields. The city itself has only some 300,000 inhabitants but the area served by the Tyne and Wear Metro has about a million. Newcastle is a major port and an industrial centre in the north-east of England.

The TYNE AND WEAR METRO system (77.5 km) is not a 'full metro' because of some level crossings, four along the branch to the Airport, one at Howdon, and three on the Sunderland line. Also, the Sunderland branch shares tracks with regional diesel train services.

Today's network was developed by converting 45 km of British Rail lines (some in use, some abandoned). Some 13 km of newly built track were added to this, including a 6.1 km long underground section (single track tube tunnels) in central Newcastle and Gateshead. The river Tyne is crossed on a purpose-built bridge. On the original network, there are also short tunnels between Tynemouth and North Shields and between Chillingham Road and Byker. At Howdon, Fawdon and Kingston Park, platforms are staggered, with a level crossing in between.

From Pelaw an extension was built to Sunderland, with Metro trains sharing tracks (14 km, upgraded with 3 new stations) from Pelaw to Sunderland with local trains run by Northern Rail. From Sunderland to South Hylton new track (4.5 km) was laid along a long dismantled railway alignment. Transfer between Metro and regional services is provided at Sunderland, Heworth and Newcastle Central Station.

The Tyne and Wear Metro is one of only a few metros in the world where one train comes through the same station twice, which is the case at Monument. Yellow Line trains start underground at St. James next to the huge football stadium. They run through the upper level at Monument and leave the city tunnel just after Manors station. After running the loop along the coast they come back into the north-south tunnel just before Jesmond, and run through Monument station on the lower level. After Central Station they come to the surface to cross the river Tyne on a bridge. Immediately after that, they disappear again to reach the last underground station at Gateshead. After this station they leave the tunnel and join the original railway alignment to Heworth and Pelaw. Until 11 Dec 2005, when the southern legs were swapped, Yellow Line trains used to continue to South Hylton, and Green Line trains from the Airport ran to South Shields (Green Line). A trip from St. James to Monument via the coastal loop takes 54 minutes, trains continue for another 28 minutes to South Shields. Green Line trains take 67 minutes from the Airport to South Hylton.

Trains can be seen in various liveries, the latest in black and yellow applied during the recent refurbishment programme still underway in 2014. 4-car trains are used, two cars are permanently coupled and allow free movement between them. The driver sits in a small cabin which only occupies half of the train's front, leaving the right half for passengers and offering a view usually only possible from automated metros. The Tyne and Wear Metro is currently operated by DB Regio, while Nexus is responsible for network maintenance and overall transport coordination.


Tyne and Wear Metro Tyne and Wear Metro Tyne and Wear Metro Tyne and Wear Metro Tyne and Wear Metro Tyne and Wear Metro Tyne and Wear Metro Tyne and Wear Metro Tyne and Wear Metro

11 Aug 1980 - Haymarket - Monkseaton - Tynemouth
10 May 1981 - South Gosforth - Bank Foot
15 Nov 1981 - Haymarket - Heworth
14 Nov 1982 - St. James - Manors - Tynemouth
25 Mar 1984 - Heworth - South Shields
17 Nov 1991 - Bank Foot - Airport
31 Mar 2002 - Pelaw - South Hylton (Sunderland extension)
11 Dec 2005 - Northumberland Park station added
17 Mar 2008 - Simonside station added



NEXUS - Metro operator - (official)

Northeast Combined Authority

Tyne and Wear Metro at Wikipedia

Tyne and Wear Metro at TheTrams.co.uk by Peter Courtenay

Simon Billis' report & photos at nycsubway.org

Monument © Robert Schwandl Pelaw © Robert Schwandl University © Robert Schwandl South Hylton © Robert Schwandl 2004 livery © Thomas  Bowman 2004 livery © Thomas  Bowman 2005 livery ©Thomas Bowman

Tram Atlas Britain & IrelandRobert Schwandl:


Birmingham, Blackpool, Dublin, Edinburgh, Manchester, Nottingham, London (Croydon) & Sheffield
+ London Underground, Docklands Light Railway, Tyne-and-Wear Metro, Liverpool Merseyrail & Glasgow Subway + Tram Museums

Numerous colour images, detailed network maps, Text deutsch/English, ISBN 978 3 936573 45 9, Nov. 2015, EUR 19.50

More info

Robert Schwandl: METROS IN BRITAIN. Underground & Light Rail Networks in the U.K. - March 2006, ISBN 3936573123 More info

Alan Young: Suburban Railways of Tyneside - 1999, ISBN 1871944201

Railways of South Shields


Tyne and Wear Metro



2004 © UrbanRail.Net by Robert Schwandl.