The newest section of the Tyne and Wear Metro is celebrating its 20th anniversary. The Sunderland line has carried 138 million passenger journeys since it opened on 31st March 2002 giving key connectivity to places of work and leisure.
Costing £100 million to construct the 14km line includes 4.5km of new track between Sunderland Station and South Hylton with the remaining section seeing the Metro share the track with heavy rail services. Twelve Metro stations were added to the network upon opening with four being upgrades of existing railway stations (Brockley Whins, East Boldon, Seaburn and Sunderland). The other eight were new builds at Fellgate, Stadium of Light, St Peter’s, Park Lane, University, Millfield, Pallion and South Hylton – the latter of which is the terminus of the line.
Martin Kearney, Nexus Chief Operating Officer, said: “The Sunderland Metro line has been such a success – carrying 138 million customers since it opened – and we are delighted to be celebrating its 20th anniversary. The line provided Sunderland with a fast, frequent and reliable transport link which has become part of everyday life in the city. People rely on it every day to get to places of work, school, college, and for leisure activities. It is a vital strategic transport corridor.
“It was a complex project to complete, being was the first line that saw Metro services shared on a Network Rail line that carries heavy rail trains too, including passenger trains and freight trains. A huge amount of work went into winning government support for the project and then all of the construction phase that followed. What is there today is testament to all the hard work that was put into winning funding and making the scheme a reality. It continues to be a success story for Sunderland, and it was fitting that the line was formally opened by the Queen during a visit in May 2002. We look forward to the future and to our first new Metro trains running on the line next year.”
Construction of the line started in 2000 before its opening two years later. The Queen officially opened it on 7th May 2002 in a ceremony at Park Lane Interchange.