By James Harrison LDRS

Virus-killing lights are due to be installed at Metro stations in a bid to reduce Covid-19 transmission.

Bosses on the Tyne and Wear transport network are preparing to begin fitting ultraviolet (UV) devices at stations after studies showed success in improving hygiene.

The new measures are expected to be added to 36 escalators across the system in the New Year.

Chris Carson, Metro Services Director, said: “[Metro operator] Nexus has implemented a couple of extra customer support teams to tackle anti-social behaviour and remind customers about the wearing of face coverings and social distancing.

“We’ve implemented enhanced cleaning regimes and we’re about to copy something Transport for London (TfL) has done, which is put UV light on to escalator rails to keep them clean.”

Carson revealed the plans at yesterday’s a meeting of the North East Joint Transport Committee’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee, which was held by videolink and broadcast via YouTube.

In October, TfL confirmed plans to install more than 200 ‘UV sanitising devices’ across 110 escalators on the capital’s underground network.

This followed a successful trial at the Heathrow T123 Tube station, which improved handrail cleanliness by at least 50 per cent.

Among the stations due to see the ultraviolet lights installed in London is Kings Cross St Pancras, the main destination for travellers from the North East.

Previous studies have shown ‘type C’ UV light can ‘de-activate’ some forms of coronavirus, although research into its effects on the Covid-19 strain are yet to be completed.

A Nexus spokesperson added: “We already have a rigorous cleaning regime across all of our stations and trains but are committed to doing everything we can to ensure that the transport network is clean and Covid-secure.

“We are going to install UV light devices to continuously clean 36 escalators on the Tyne and Wear Metro system.

“The device is connected to the escalator handrail and uses its motion to power a UV bulb that breaks down surface contamination to sanitise the handrail.

“We hope that the installation of these new devices, along with the provision of hand sanitiser across the network along with a range of other measures, will help us to carry on rebuilding customer confidence.

“We are already using hospital grade disinfectant on all surfaces which kill viruses immediately and protect those surfaces for 30 days, and we are replenishing that on a cycle.

“Customers should continue to follow all the rules regarding good hand hygiene and social distancing at all times.

“Face coverings remain mandatory on all modes of public transport unless exempt.”