Tens of thousands use new look Tyne pedestrian tunnel

More than 30,000 people used the Tyne Pedestrian and Cyclist Tunnels in the first two full months of re-opening, figures have revealed.

Friday, 10th January 2020, 8:15 am
Stuart Turnbull, project manager for Tyne Pedestrian and Cyclist Tunnels.

Figures show in in September there were 10,446 pedestrians and 5,728 cyclists using the Grade II-listed Tunnels between Howdon and Jarrow. In October there were 10,109 pedestrians and 4,667 cyclists.

Tunnels’ principal engineer Alastair Swan said: “Before the tunnels closed for refurbishment in 2013 we estimated that between 15,000 and 20,000 people per month were using them.

“It is invaluable to now have accurate figures to help us measure the social return on the investment of the Joint Transport Committee in restoring the tunnels and keeping open this vital, green link across the Tyne.”

In their heyday in the 1950s, when factories and shipyards crowded the banks of the Tyne, around 20,000 people used the tunnels every day.

Mr Swan said: “Those industries are long gone and we don’t expect to see those kinds of numbers again.

“But cycling is once again becoming an option for commuters. We know, for example, that workers at Nissan in the south and Cobalt Business Park in the north cycle through the free-to-use tunnels to work.

“The rise of cycling for leisure and the investment by North Tyneside and South Tyneside Councils in improving cycleways connecting to the tunnels, mean there now is a whole new market out there.”

Work to complete the renovations is expected to be completed this month, despite the tunnels opening to the public last August.

New lifts were expected to be installed in September to finish the scheme, estimated to have cost more than £16million, but that deadline has been pushed back to January.

A spokesperson from the North East Joint Transport Committee, which is responsible for the tunnel, said: “Due to ongoing issues with the commissioning of the inclined lifts, they are not yet in operation.

“We are working hard to resolve this issue with the specialist contractor and will hope to confirm a new date early in the new year. We apologise for any inconvenience.”