Metro’s Wearside expansion plans

The sort of trams that could be part of an extended Metro system

The sort of trams that could be part of an extended Metro system

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TRANSPORT bosses have unveiled grand plans to extend the Metro across Wearside and East Durham.

Nexus has drawn up a long-term vision to expand the system to include Doxford International, Washington and Seaham, as well as creating a super-speed link between East Boldon and South Shields.

In a bid to secure the move, transport chiefs at Tyne and Wear Integrated Transport Authority have commissioned an independent review to address the best way to connect areas not currently served by the Metro.

The plans proposes a new Metro line linking Washington to Pelaw and South Hylton, an extension from the University to Doxford International and an extension to Seaham.

The proposed nine new lines across the whole service will include a mixture of trains, trams and special bus routes.

Coun Paul Watson, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “We really do believe that we are under-served by the Metro and we have put pressure on to see places like these to be linked.

“We in Sunderland firmly believe we don’t get a fair share of benefit from the Metro and have been pushing to get extra branches and for it to be expanded to reach a lot more of the population who are paying for it through taxes but are not served by it.”

But he added the plans are in the very early stages and if given the go-ahead would not be ready for at least a decade.

“What we don’t want to do is build people’s hopes and expectations up,” he said.

“People won’t be seeing a Metro stopping in Washington for at least another decade.”

Coun Watson said the move would attract more visitors to the region, strengthen business and improve the economy.

But with Government funding drying up, the transport authority is expected to have to head a strong case for the expansion.

Bernard Garner, director general of Nexus, said: “The benefits of Metro are clear and we would like to extend those benefits to new parts of Tyne and Wear where it would benefit the whole economy to do so.

“This is not only a study into the potential networks of future decades but also the type of technologies that might suit them best.”

Arup, the consultants brought in to head the study, plan to look at new technologies that can be used to take the Metro network into the “next generation”.

This includes eventually buying train-trams to replace the current Metro trains.

The study will be discussed by the Tyne and Wear Integrated Transport Authority next week.

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