Metro celebrates 35 years of service

The official opening of the Metro link between Haymarket and Tynemouth on August 7, 1980.

The official opening of the Metro link between Haymarket and Tynemouth on August 7, 1980.

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A key transport network is celebrating its 35th anniversary.

The Tyne and Wear Metro, which carries 38.1m passenger journeys a year and run by Nexus, first opened to the public on August 11, 1980.

The people of Tyne and Wear have really taken Metro to their hearts and I don’t think anyone could imagine life without it

Raymond Johnstone, director of rail and infrastructure for Nexus

The system was built between 1974 and 1980 at a cost of £280m, after government funding was secured.

And due to its popularity, it was extended to South Shields in 1984, Newcastle Airport in 1991, and the £100m Sunderland line opened in April 2002.

Raymond Johnstone, director of rail and infrastructure for Nexus, said: “Metro was a landmark achievement and remains a major success story for the region.

“It was a massive infrastructure project to build the system.

“Many major capital cities around the world have metro systems, including London, New York and Tokyo. For Tyne and Wear to be in that exclusive club is nothing short of remarkable.”

“The people of Tyne and Wear have really taken Metro to their hearts and I don’t think anyone could imagine life without it.

“We are now in the process of securing Metro’s long term future through our £389m Metro all change modernisation programme and we are already talking to the Government about replacing the train fleet in the years to come.”

Coun Nick Forbes, who is responsible for transport on the North East Combined Authority, said: “Since its launch 35 years ago, the Tyne and Wear Metro has become an iconic part of our region’s identity and plays a critical role in getting hundreds of thousands of people to where they need to be every day.

“It helps drive our economy; getting commuters to work, shoppers to the shops, football fans to the match and it allows visitors and residents to enjoy our cultural attractions and night-time economy.

“It has the fastest growing passenger numbers outside of London which underlines the need for the recent refurbishment, and I am confident it will play a central part in the growth of our economy for many years to come.”