RCTS Logo

North East Branch

Guide to Travelling on the Tyne and Wear Metro

  
   The map of the Tyne and Wear Metro  

There notes were originally prepared for the AGM Weekend in Newcastle, April 2011 and updated August 2012

  
   Metrocars 4042+ 4061 in the new livery after refurbishment by Wabtec, Doncater, seen here at Haymarket station on 3rd May 2012. The station is also in the new colours.   Roger Darsley
The Tyne & Wear Metro serves Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Gateshead, South Tyneside, North Tyneside and Sunderland. It opened in 1980 and has a network of nearly 78 kilometres. Electrification is by 1500vDC and its operating speed is 80km/hr. The Metro was the first UK railway to use only the metric system for its speeds and distances. There are 60 stations operated as a Green Line [Airport-South Hylton] and a Yellow Line [St James-South Shields]. It was the first British modern light rail system, though it is hybrid with elements of light rail, heavy underground metro and longer interurban systems. It is operated by DB Regio [a subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn] on behalf of Nexus. Metro cars are in the process of being refurbished and the new livery is dark grey, black with yellow doors and flashes.

Metro is an ‘open access’ network with no fixed ticket controls. Checks are made by roving patrols of inspectors, though from 2011 electronic barriers will be re-installed in thirteen major stations. Cash is required to buy tickets from the ticket machines, but new machines that take notes and cards are now being installed. As no returns are issued, the Day Rover ticket is the best purchase. National free bus passes are not accepted on the Metro. [Locals pay £25 a year for an over 60’s card.]

Photographing is not normally challenged but Metro stations are private property and there is increasing security considerations, particularly in underground stations where flash photography is forbidden. Permission to photograph on stations should be sought from Nexus Head Office.

The railway from Pelaw through Sunderland to South Hylton is owned by Network Rail, and Sunderland is a particularly sensitive security point and permission should be sought from Northern Rail Headquarters. There is a staff office on the platform at Sunderland and photographers with permission should report to that office on arrival. Photography from public roadways and footpaths is not restricted.

South Gosforth Car Sheds

There have been open days about every 2-5 years. It is not possible to visit as an individual. Views can be seen between South Gosforth and Regent Centre. There is no vantage point, except from passing Metrocars

Metro Timetables

The Metro does not issue complete system timetables. [There must be one but it must be only at the Control Centre!] It issues timetables for each station. These are on the station platforms and can be obtained from Nexus shops at the major stations; Monument, Haymarket, North Shields, South Shields and Sunderland. The system does work to timetable – and more stringently than TOPS railways – any delay information is given on the station or in the train by PA.

The rule of thumb is that you should never have to wait more than 13 minutes for a Metro [6 minutes in the central section Pelaw-South Gosforth]. For times to destinations, count the number of stations and times by 2 to give the journey time in minutes. The timetable cards will also give approximate times from that station to the important stations. If you get off at a station to photograph the Metro at a point, then you will need a Metrocar to photograph and another to continue your journey so that means even allowing for trains coming from the other way, your minimum photograph stop will be 20-30 minutes.

It is suggested that you always go out the furthest along the line and then work back so that if necessary, you can always skip a stop if time is running short. My example would be: Monument to Hadrian Road for the NER viaduct, stopping on the way back at Wallsend [Latin signage], Chillingham Road [Heaton shed], Byker [The Byker Viaduct] and back to Monument.

Here are two possible itineraries:
1. Using the Metro to see ‘BR/Metro interactions and some Metro sites
2. Travelling around the Metro just for the Metro’s sake.

The Metro is one of the few systems these days where you can “sit up front with the driver”. The windows of the front seat do not have windscreen wipers and may not always be clean but usually you can find a cleanish spot and with the camera up close to the glass, the smudges are minimised. The front seat of the leading car is popular – best grabbed at a terminus!! Don’t forget that if the front seat of the leading car is taken, there is also the seat at the rear of the trailing car [better than nothing].

To see Main line of Metro Activity on a Saturday in 2011

West Jesmond - [The commercial hotel area of the city]
↓ 6 minutes (B &NTR - 1853)
Monument
Change lines for Coast via Wallsend - 10 minutes
Monument
↓ 12 minutes (N&NSR – 1839) also view Byker viaduct from train
Hadrian Road
- viaduct photographs –3 mins walk, allow 30 mins for train to cross.
Hadrian Road
↓ 6 minutes
Chillingham Road - view of Heaton depot from station – closest you get!
↓ 6 minutes
Monument
Change lines for Sunderland & South Hylton - 10 minutes
Monument
↓ 30 minutes (Brandling Jcn Rly – 1839)
Sunderland
- Arrival and departure of GC train.
- time in between walk to car-park overlooking Wear bridge
Sunderland
↓ 20 minutes
Pelaw
Change for South Shields train 10 minutes
Pelaw
↓ 16 minutes single track sections, (S&TR 1834 at Chichester)
South Shields
Photograph train 15 minutes
South Shields
↓ 16 minutes
Pelaw
View Northern Rail from footbridge
Pelaw
↓ 13 minutes
Haymarket
15 minutes view rebuilt station (the standard for the future)
Haymarket
↓ 4 minutes
West Jesmond

That seems plausible with some recovery time.

  
   Metrocar 4027 in North Eastern Railway colours, is in the South Gosforth sheds on the Open Day 8th August 2010   Roger R Darsley
  
   Metrocar 4084 in the latest of the advertising liveries for the new POP interactive under-16 Metrocard at Tynemouth Station on 6th June 2011   Roger R Darsley

Just to travel around the Metro

This is a suggested route starting from the commercial hotel area of Newcastle. Bear in mind that if you get off, it is 13 minutes to the next train out.
West Jesmond
↓ South Gosforth to Regent Centre gives you the only view of South Gosforth Car Sheds.
↓ Fawdon and Kingston Park are staggered stations and good for photography of units on the other platform. I prefer Kingston Park.
↓ Between Bank Foot and Callerton Parkway is open country.
Airport
Airport
↓ A second view of South Gosforth Car Sheds
South Gosforth
Change trains. They usually connect [with a bit of a rush over the footbridge!]
South Gosforth - The circle line to the coast and St. James
↓ Benton has sidings and a footpath to a limited view of the ECML
Northumberland Park is an island platform. The freight line to Ashington runs alongside from Benton, but there are no freight trains on Saturday
↓ Monkseaton, Whitley Bay, Cullercoats and Tynemouth are the old large stations for the coast.
↓ Chillingham Road for Heaton sheds
↓ Byker for the flying viaduct
↓ Manors for a walk to Manors NR station
St James
St James

Monument
Change trains
Monument
↓ Network Rails owned Pelaw Jcn to South Hylton
↓ Brockley Whins is the Junction for freight to Tyne Dock
↓ St Peter’s Station for Monkwearmouth station museum
Sunderland
Walk to car-park for photography of bridge over the River Wear

Sunderland

South Hylton
Return
South Hylton

Pelaw
Change trains
Pelaw
↓ Simonside is a new station
South Shields
Terminus
South Shields
↓ Haymarket has been rebuilt and is the standard for new underground stations
West Jesmond

Main Line Photography from the Metro

Please, check linked websites for up to date timetables.

Newcastle Central has ticket barriers and no platform tickets are issued. Manors Station (Northern Rail) is easily reached from Manors (Metro) and that will cover northbound traffic. The station car-park at the east end of Central Station will cover the High Level Bridge, though the sun is usually in the wrong place. Photographing from the top of the new Castle is good but expensive, as you have to pay an entrance fee.

Heaton sheds - Chillingham Road Metro station Heaton services East Coast, Grand Central and Northern rail. It has 08 class shunters. There has only been one open day in the last 10 years and it is not possible to visit as individuals.

Tyne Yard (Not on the Metro) DBS Maintenance yard Cross Country units serviced. Freight marshalling yard.No visits ever, except once for families of workers. Bus services to Low Fell and walk to over-bridge. GR NZ 258583 which is a regular vantage point.

Freight Metro Stations to visit
EWS class 60 on the Jarrow Lindsey empty oil tanks. GBRF & EWS from Tyne Dock. These can go via Pelaw and Gateshead, or via the Sunderland and Coast route. Pelaw station has a very useful footbridge, but it travels alongside the Metro from Jarrow. Brockley Whins for Tyne Dock junction. Simonside for climb out of Port of Tyne.
Northumberland Park station. EWS/Freightliner/GBRF using the Blyth & Tyne line from the ECML to Blyth, Ashington & Morpeth. Benton station – footpath to footbridge over ECML north of Benton Quarry; 10 minute walk to road bridge giving view of Benton Quarry Junction.

Grand Central - Sunderland station is underground. Grand Central arrive and depart to the south. (They will go north to Pelaw to change tracks, as there is no waiting space in Sunderland station.) Sunderland – leave station and take pictures of the bridges from the multi-storey car park.

Northern Rail They run class 156 and 142 from Middlesbrough through to Carlisle. They can be viewed from the Metro anywhere from Sunderland to Gateshead Stadium. The best place is the footbridge to Pelaw Metro station, as you cover both NR and Metro and with a telephoto, can get Pelaw Junction. Pelaw The NR trains don’t stop. Heworth is the interchange station and they pass close to Pelaw. Newcastle Central – East Coast A very short walk from Manors Metro station leads to Manors NR station. This is an island platform with a footbridge which gives you a view of all traffic on the ECML North (including ecs workings into Heaton depot.)

Preservation

The Tanfield Railway Mainly industrial locomotives, representatives of most North east builders. The Causey arch of 1758 and the oldest working railway. This is not on the Metro system, but is well served by buses from Newcastle bus station. (Haymarket Metro) George Stephenson Museum Middle Engine Lane North Shields. A relatively small but rare collection of North East stock from waggonways to British Rail. Northumberland Park Metro station and the No.19 bus from the interchange south or Percy Main Metro station and the No.19 bus north.

last updated: 30/08/12