Byline: Rob Pattinson
TRANSPORT bosses have released details of one of the biggest bus replacement services in the region's history - but have admitted some journey times could double.
Metro chiefs say they have plans in place to move up to 14,000 commuters a day who are expected to be affected by closures that begin this weekend.
The whole line between Byker station, in Newcastle, and Tynemouth, North Tyneside, is set to close for 23 days from Saturday. The closure of the busy line is to allow pounds 22m of work to be carried out on the line, said to be the oldest dedicated commuter route in the world.
A bus replacement service - number 900 - will be in operation along the route stopping at, or close to, all Metro stations, but Nexus, which owns the system, said passengers should allow double their usual journey time.
Transport bosses have announced passes for the system will be valid on all 900 services, but not on other buses' routes.
Tickets must be bought by passengers on buses, except at North Shields and Tynemouth stations, where ticket machines will still be working.
Extra services from the coast to Newcastle, via Four Lane Ends station, will be running during the closures. This will mean commuters from North Shields will have a shorter journey time if they take the long route on the Metro.
Director General of Nexus Bernard Garner said: "The modernisation of the line between Byker and Tynemouth is vital to secure Metro's future, and the least disruptive way to do the work is to close it for a concentrated period.
"We want to make sure the bus service is as good as it can be and reflects the journeys passengers need to make."
Ken Mackay, director of Rail and Infrastructure for Nexus, said: "The scale of the works leaves us with no choice but to close the line between Byker and Tynemouth for 23 days and over a number of weekends before that.
"Some stations will also need to close in the evening from 8pm.
"We know this will cause inconvenience, but the work cannot be done safely without closing lines, and the best way to do that is through a small number of concentrated blocks of work in one area at a time."
The pounds 22m works, designed to protect the system from becoming dangerous and from speed restrictions being introduced, is part of the Metro's modernisation programme, which will see a total of pounds 385m invested across the network. …