The newest section of the Tyne and Wear Metro is the line south from Pelaw to Sunderland and South Hylton, which opened in March 2002. This line is unique in British light rail systems in that the track is owned by Network Rail and forms part of the National Rail system. Metro trains share the line between Pelaw and Sunderland with mainline passenger and freight services, but have exclusive use of the line from Sunderland on to the terminus at South Hylton.
Green line (Airport–Sunderland) services provide a 12-minute frequency as far as Park Lane station in Sunderland; alternate trains continue to South Hylton, giving a 24-minute frequency to the terminus. The line is double track throughout, except at South Hylton station which there is single platform.
Stations at Brockley Whins, East Boldon and Seaburn were converted from former mainline railway use, with new stations being built for Metro services at Fellgate, Stadium Of Light, St. Peter’s, Park Lane, University, Millfield, Pallion and South Hylton. Sunderland station is shared with National Rail servies, with mainline and Metro services using different parts of the same platforms, another unique arrangement amongst light rail systems in the UK.
Pacer approaching Fellgate East Boldon level crossing
Just east of Pelaw station, there are carriage sidings which are used as a turnback for short workings through Newcastle which terminate at Pelaw. Beyond these sidings, the South Shields and Sunderland lines part company. The east/southbound track crosses the adjacent Network Rail line on a viaduct, and both tracks drop down to join this main line at Pelaw Metro Junction. From here on the track is owned by Network Rail, and Metro services share the line with mainline freight and passenger services as far as Sunderland. The first station is Fellgate, which is built on an embankment. Just before the next station, Brockley Whins (known as Boldon Colliery when it was a mainline station), a Network Rail freight line to Tyne Dock branches off to the north. South of the station there is a disused east–north curve onto this freight line.
Sprinter passing Stadium of Light Monkwearmouth station Wearmouth bridge
Brockley Whins is followed by stations at East Boldon, Seaburn and Stadium of Light which serves Sunderland A.F.C.’s football ground. Just before the next station, St. Peter’s, trains pass through the site of Monkwearmouth station, now a transport museum. After St. Peter’s, the line passes over the River Wear on an impressive viaduct before diving into a tunnel to reach Sunderland station. Here Metro trains share platforms with mainline passenger services.
looking north from Park Lane looking north from South Hylton
South from Sunderland, Metro trains branch off to the west, leaving the Network Rail main line which continues to Middlesbrough and beyond. From here to South Hylton the line is owned by Network Rail, but is used exclusively by Metro services. The line emerges briefly into open air before returning to tunnel for Park Lane station, built as part of a transport interchange which also incorporates a bus station. The line continues the route of the former Sunderland–Durham railway which closed in the 1960, initially running west to University station before briefly heading north-east to Millfield and Pallion stations. The line is heading south-west by the time it reaches the terminus at South Hylton. Double track gives way to single track just short of the station, which only has a single platform.
Looking north from Park Lane station. 4007 is leaving on an Airport service
by simon schofield