The Tyne and Wear Metro has been praised for its handling of the “crisis” that followed the Great North Run after a torrential downpour caused chaos on the line.
Passengers were left stranded after the heavens opened in South Shields following the half marathon on September 10, with the heavy rain causing a torrent of water to burst through the doors of the South Shield Interchange.
The £21 million transport hub had to be evacuated and temporarily closed, while water also had to be pumped off the railway tracks themselves near the Tyne Dock station due to flash flooding.
But Metro bosses have now said that they got “everyone away” less than an hour later than had been managed in previous years – despite a 90 minute closure of services. On Wednesday, members of the North East Joint Transport Committee were quick to praise the response from service operator Nexus.
Cllr Nick Kemp, the leader of Newcastle City Council, said: “Credit to the organisation. The only feedback I’ve had has been positive. You showed crisis management at the fore.”
Cllr Martin Gannon, leader of Gateshead Council, also spoke highly of the response – but also made a joke about statements that had appeared from Nexus in the press.
Cllr Gannon said: “It was really distressing to see so many people, particularly young kids, lining up at South Shields – but it was managed very well.
“I read in the papers that Nexus said it will ‘never happen again’. I thought that was a brave statement!”
Earlier, Nexus’ interim managing director, Catherine Massarella, had described how the day had unfolded.
She said: “It was a day of extremes – a record breaking year in terms of the number of passengers on public transport. The Metro carried well in excess of 100,000 people.
“The first part of the day went extremely well, but we were hit by a Biblical deluge which disrupted Metro services in the area and resulted in about a 90 minute closure of service from South Shields. Despite that, we still got everybody away less than an hour later than we had in previous years.
“This is accounting for the fact that the race started half an hour later, there were a record number of runners and we lost service for 90 minutes. The impact on our services were extreme.”
Mrs Massarella also highlighted the success of the so-called Metro Flow project, which saw an existing freight line upgraded and electrified in South Tyneside in 2022, allowing it to carry Metro services.
She continued: “Part of our ability to recover was because of the infrastructure introduced by the Metro Flow system. The level of support from partners was brilliant – we couldn’t have done it on our own. Runners were also extremely patient.”
The interim managing director also revealed that work was already underway in order to prevent similar issues in the future.
Mrs Massarella added: “We are in discussions with South Tyneside Council and Northumbrian Water to improve infrastructure in the vicinity of Tyne Dock to make sure this never happens again.”