Tyne and Wear Metro owner and operator Nexus has started construction on the £100m Metro Flow project in the UK.
The project involves upgrades to an existing freight line in South Tyneside and its electrification, to add a further 24,000 passenger journeys per day.
Plans are on to increase the frequency of Metro trains to one every 10 minutes outside central areas.
This project will see dualling of three sections of single track between Pelaw and Bede Metro stations to reduce journey times and increase service frequency.
The line sections are located between Pelaw and Hebburn (800m), Hebburn and Jarrow (1.4km), as well as Jarrow and Bede (600m).
South Tyneside Council leader Tracey Dixon said: “Metro Flow will deliver huge benefits for South Tyneside and for the wider region. It will increase capacity, frequency and efficiency on the system.
“A safe, reliable and efficient public transport network is vital to boost economic growth, and to link our residents and businesses to job, education and social opportunities.
“It will also promote sustainable transport and support our move towards a cleaner, greener borough.”
Nexus chief operating officer Martin Kearney said that the dual track, upon completion at the end of the year, will enable increased frequency of Metro services system-wide from 12 minutes to 10 minutes, outside of the central areas.
Kearney added: “This also gives us the scope to examine future opportunities to expand the network to other areas that are currently not served by Metro.”
In September 2021, Nexus ordered four new Metro trains from Swiss firm Stadler, after receiving £95m from the government’s Transforming Cities Fund for the Metro Flow programme.