Metro celebrates 35th birthday

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One of the most significant infrastructure developments of modern history – the Tyne and Wear Metro – is celebrating its 35th birthday today

The light transit system, which carries 38.1million passengers a year, first opened to the public on August 11, 1980.

Metro was built between 1974 and 1980 at a cost of £280million, and owner Nexus says it takes an estimated 15million car journeys off the region’s roads each year.

Government funding was secured despite a period of severe spending cuts.

Tunnels were driven beneath the streets of Newcastle and Gateshead.

Stations and viaducts were constructed and a new bridge was built over the Tyne.

The system was extended to South Shields in 1984 and to Newcastle Airport in 1991.

The Sunderland line was opened in April 2002 at a cost of £100million, with part of the funding coming from the European Union.

Nick Forbes, who is responsible for transport on the North East Combined Authority, said: “Since its launch 35 years ago, the Tyne and Wear Metro has become an iconic part of our region’s identity.

“It plays a critical role in getting hundreds of thousands of people to where they need to be every day.”

Houghton and Sunderland South MP Bridget Phillipson is pressing for the line to be extended to Washington, via the Leamside Line.