The holiday schedule for the replacement transport services for users of the Tyne Pedestrian and Cyclist Tunnels during their refurbishment has been announced today by the North East Combined Authority (NECA).
The free-to-use timetabled shuttle bus service will continue to operate throughout the holiday period from 6am to 8pm EXCEPT ON CHRISTMAS DAY ONLY. The service will end at 8pm on Christmas Eve and restart at 6am on Boxing Day.
The Night Service for registered night-shift workers will continue to operate as normal throughout the holiday period, including Christmas Eve, Christmas Night, Boxing Night and New Year’s Eve.
Work has begun to remove or encapsulate asbestos in the historic Grade II-listed Tyne Pedestrian and Cyclist Tunnels under the river between Howdon and Jarrow.
It is expected to take specialist contractors until Christmas to complete the works.
However, the tunnels are being handed back to their owner, the North East Combined Authority (NECA), in stages to enable refurbishment works to re-commence as early as possible.
The tunnels were closed for refurbishment in May 2013. A series of setbacks, including the discovery of the extent of asbestos contamination, as well as corrosion, coupled with the collapse of the original contractor GB Building Solutions, has delayed the project.
The tunnels are now expected to re-open in Spring 2018.
A free-to-use replacement shuttle bus service for up to 24 passengers and 16 bicycles and a Night Service for shift workers will continue to operate.
Alastair Swan, principal engineer for the tunnels, said: “This is a positive step forward in restoring the tunnels as a vital piece of cross-Tyne infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians.
“Despite the difficulties we have encountered, we remain committed to the refurbishment of the tunnels.”
About the Tunnels
The Tyne Pedestrian and Cyclist Tunnels (TPCT) were opened on 24th July 1951, heralded as Tyneside’s contribution to the ‘Festival of Britain’ (May to September 1951) at a total cost of £833,000.
They contained the first purpose-built cycle tunnel in the UK and were the earliest to be used by both cyclists and pedestrians.
The Tunnels run under the River Tyne between Howdon in North Tyneside and Jarrow in South Tyneside. The two tunnels run in parallel, the pedestrian tunnel has a 10 ft 6 in (3.2 m) internal diameter and the cycle tunnel has a larger 12 ft (3.7 m) internal diameter tunnel.
Both tunnels are 900 ft (274.5 m) in length, 40 ft (12.2 m) below the river bed, with floor levels 85ft (26 m) below high water level of the Tyne.
A special feature of the tunnels is their four original wooden-step Waygood-Otis escalators. At the time of construction, they were the longest single-rise escalators in the world, with a vertical rise of 85ft (25.9m) and a length of approximately 200ft (61m). They are believed still to be the longest wooden-step escalators in Europe.
In 2000, the tunnels were awarded Grade II listing to indicate their historic significance.
In 2010 the vertical lifts were repaired and modernised.
In 2012, a £4 million refurbishment, to include the replacement of two of the escalators with inclined lifts, will begin. The remaining two escalators will be preserved in situ because of their historic significance.