Q. Why have you closed the Tyne Pedestrian and Cyclist Tunnels?
We are investing £4.9 million in a major refurbishment of the tunnels, the biggest investment since they opened in 1951. This will include the replacement of two of the escalators with inclined lifts. We will also be installing new lighting, CCTV, control and communications systems, in addition to carrying out repairs to the tunnel structure itself and to the historic finishes within the tunnel such as the tiling and panelling. The concrete floor sections are also to be refurbished or replaced, which will greatly improve the surfaces for cyclists and pedestrians.
These works are substantial and, given the restricted space, likely to be difficult for the contractors. We looked into whether we could keep the tunnels open during the works but decided it would be better to close them completely so the works can be done safely, more quickly, and at a lower cost. It would also provide certainty for users. Please note, given the complex nature of these works complete closure would still have been required from time to time during the works programme even if public access was allowed during the project.
Q. How long are they expected to be closed for?
The Tyne Pedestrian and Cyclist Tunnels will close for a period of around 13 months for the refurbishment works to be completed. They are expected to re-open in June/July 2014.
Q. Why can’t the work be done outside of peak hours?
To carry out the works out of normal hours or between peak travel times would dramatically increase the cost of the works and is considered not to represent a prudent use of public funds.
To mitigate this impact, we are operating a free and timetabled shuttle bus service between the rotundas. The service operates every day from 6am to 8pm, with departures every 30 minutes.
The service is able to accommodate 16 cycles on a cycle trailer, therefore both pedestrians and cyclists will be able to use the shuttle bus service.
Q. Why are you replacing the historic escalators with lifts?
We take seriously our responsibilities towards the tunnels’ heritage. That is why we applied and succeeded in gaining Grade II listed-building status for them. However, we are also conscious that the tunnels are not just a historic icon but also provide a vital daily link for people on both banks of the river.
The escalators are over 60 years old and are now all out of service. The costs of repair and maintenance have become uneconomic. Inclined lifts provide a modern, cost-effective way of transferring users in and out of the tunnels. The remaining two escalators will be refurbished and preserved, with their workings exposed to public view for the first time. Please note, that the remaining escalators will not be open for public use.
We have had to gain Listed Building Consent for the works from North Tyneside and South Tyneside Councils and have worked with English Heritage and other heritage organisations during the planning of these works. They all recognise our need to continue to provide a working and reliable transport link across the river whilst acknowledging the heritage value of the tunnels. The refurbishment plans are an acceptable balance between the need for a safe, fit-for-purpose transport link and conserving our heritage.
Q. How do I get across the river during the refurbishment?
We are providing a free, timetabled shuttle bus service (with a trailer for bikes) between 6am and 8pm, every day of the week including Sundays.
Further details can be found on our Shuttle Bus Service page
Alternate transport measures are also in place to enable shift worker usage outside of the shuttle bus hours.
Further details can be found on our Night Service page
Other alternative methods for crossing the river can be found by clicking here
For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q. Are the tunnels a public right of way?
No. There is no legal obligation for us to keep the tunnels open. However, the £4.9m investment shows our commitment to the tunnels both now and for the future.
Q. Why hasn’t TWITA consulted with users about closing the tunnel?
The Tyne & Wear Integrated Transport Authority (TWITA) has informed the community groups on either side of the river who were originally established for the New Tyne Crossing project but obviously provide a useful and important forum for Tyne Pedestrian & Cyclist Tunnels updates. Additionally, we have posted details of the proposals – and will continue to do so – on this website as well as communicating through Twitter and Facebook and in the regional media.
TWITA also convene and chair a New Tyne Crossing Cycle Consultation Group who have been regularly consulted regarding the proposals for the Tyne Pedestrian and Cyclist Tunnels. This group is made up of representatives of North and South Tyneside Councils, Sustrans and cycle groups (CTC and Tynebikes).
Q. What about the long-term future of the tunnels?
The overall investment to be made in these tunnels is significant. It is therefore our primary objective to increase the usage of the tunnels, for healthy travel and recreation, in-line with overarching government policy. We believe that it is only once the tunnels are refurbished that this objective can be realised and we will be actively promoting usage of the newly refurbished tunnels once the works are complete.
We fully appreciate that these tunnels provide an essential and sustainable transport link and are committed to protecting their long term future. The proposed shuttle service for the duration of the temporary closure will go a long way to maintain it during the period of these essential works.
Q: Who pays for the tunnels?
The day-to-day upkeep of the tunnels is paid for by the tolls collected at the vehicle tunnel. However, due to the tunnels’ age and Grade II listing, TWITA has had to find money far in excess of its normal maintenance budget to fund these improvements.
Q: How much does it cost to maintain the tunnels?
Around £150,000 was spent on maintaining the Tyne Pedestrian and Cyclist Tunnels in 2009-10. In addition, TWITA has invested £500,000 in repairing the vertical lifts and refurbishing the lift shafts.
Q. How many people use the tunnels?
Around 20,000 journeys were made per month through these tunnels. That’s around a quarter of a million people every year. It is fairly evenly split between cyclists and pedestrians.
Q. How safe and secure are the tunnels?
The tunnels are CCTV monitored 24 hours a day, and staff are regularly present undertaking cleaning and maintenance.
Q: Who is responsible for the tunnels and who do I contact if I need to?
The Tyne and Wear Integrated Transport Authority (TWITA) is ultimately responsible for the operation of the tunnels.
If you have a comment or complaint contact:
Mr Paul Fenwick
Tyne & Wear Integrated Transport Authority
Newcastle City Council
Newcastle upon Tyne
If the matter is urgent, contact the New Tyne Crossing Helpline on 0191 262 4451.