Tyne Pedestrian and Cyclist Tunnel on course to reopen after five-year closure for refurbishment

The pedestrian tunnel. Picture by PA
The pedestrian tunnel. Picture by PA

The pedestrian and cycle tunnels linking South Tyneside and North Tyneside under the River Tyne are on course to reopen after a five-year closure.

The popular Grade II-listed tunnels closed in May 2013 to allow for renovations, and repeated delays have been a frustration for people who use the tunnel.

The pedestrian tunnel. Picture by PA

The pedestrian tunnel. Picture by PA

A free shuttle bus service has been running from 6am to 8pm seven days a week for pedestrians and cyclists, but doesn't operate all hours and takes significantly longer than a tunnel crossing.

Now a new report to the North East Combined Authority (NECA) has revealed that work is due to be complete in spring 2018.

It reads: "At this time, it is envisaged that the works will be completed in the Spring of 2018.

"The refurbishment works on the TPCT continues to make good progress with civil engineering, mechanical and electrical contractors working on site."

The tunnel opened in 1951 and connects Jarrow to Howdon, and was famous for being home to the longest wooden escalators in Europe.

The £6.9million refurbishment project includes replacing two of the original four escalators with inclined lifts, and replacing the tunnel’s outdated mechanical and electrical systems.

Two of the original escalators will remain in place and will be on public view due to their historical significance, and will be and illuminated with feature lighting.

New lighting, CCTV, control and communications systems are also being installed, as well as a number of repairs to the tunnel structure, tiling and panelling.

The report, to be presented to the authority next week, outlines which works have been completed or are progressing well.

These include concrete repairs to columns and beams supporting the paving flags in both tunnels, which is complete, and installation of new support steelwork to the lower landing areas is complete and the concrete slabs have been cast.

Injection and coating works to deal with leaks in the inclined shafts are complete, and fabrication work on new concrete paving and steel paving and deck plates is ongoing.

Work to install new ceiling panels within the inclined shafts are ongoing, electrical trunking and cabling works are progressing, and the Italian subcontractor has been on site in preparation for the start of the inclined lift installation works.

The tunnel had been due to reopen in 2015, but the discovery of asbestos delayed the planned reopening to summer 2017.

Work was delayed again when it was revealed specialist contractors needed until Christmas to complete work.

In April 2015,after the original contractor entering Administration, NECA took over the role of main contractor on the refurbishment of the Tyne Pedestrian and Cyclist Tunnels.