A holiday in the lovely town of Tynemouth last week gave me the chance to check out Tyne & Wear Metro. This is what I made of it in comparison to my local rail network Merseyrail:-
Merseyrail Class 508 EMU at Maghull Station
T&W Metrocars at Whitley Bay Station
In some ways these two rail commuter systems are similar but in others they are quite different.
They both serve large northern metropolitan areas – Tyne and Wear & Merseyside respectively – plus they both like painting their trains and stations yellow, grey and black. What’s more both are about to gain new (Stadler) rolling stock – Merseyrail before Tyne & Wear.
The differences as I saw them:-
* Merseyrail has staff at virtually every station – T&W Metro seems to be a predominately a staff-less system. Certainly I didn’t see staff on the 4 journeys that I made on their trains and you buy tickets from machines like this one at Tynemouth Station:-
* With no staff around T&W Metro feels less secure to travel on than Merseytravel. This performance poster (seen at Cullercoats Station) is interesting – look at the staff availability (only 5.9 out of 10) and Ticketing (5.8 out of 10), although to be fair their security rating is a higher 7.1 out of 10:-
* T&W Metro has a big graffiti problem as mile after mile of lineside walls are covered in it – Merseyrail generally is graffiti-free – probably shouldn’t have said that!
* The old T&W Metro EMU’s are quite basic and look their age (although they were refurbished between 2010 and 2015 by Wabtec Rail at Doncaster) whereas the Merseyrail EMU’s have been refurbished a couple of times and look modern especially on the inside.
* As a non-local I found T&W’s major station – Monument – hard to navigate especially for trains on the circular route north of the Tyne. It would have been nice to have had a member of staff to interact with as Merseyrail always has at it’s hub station – Central. I had to ask fellow passengers for advice on which train to get to Tynemouth Station.
* Merseyrail is of course 3rd rail power pick up whereas T&W Metro is overhead line.
* T&W Metro is light rail – Merseyrail is heavy rail. The present T&W stock are called Metrocars. They are a fleet of light rail vehicles manufactured by Metro-Cammell. For operation on Network Rail controlled tracks (between Pelaw Junction and Sunderland) they are designated on TOPS as Class 994. Merseyrail’s Class 507 & 508 EMU’s are British Rail built.
T&W Metro’s Tynemouth Station is a delight in its careful and spot on refurbishment *.
Manors is an underground Station which reminded me a little of Merseyrail’s Moorfields Station.
I enjoyed riding T&W Metro but I think that Merseyrail has the edge on it especially with regard to staffing, security and ticketing. Here’s a link to the new trains that T&W Metro will be getting:-
And a local newspaper article about the temporary depot being constructed as the change over of trains to Stadler starts to take shape:-
My thanks to Wikipedia for some facts used above
Click on the photos and newspaper article to enlarge them
* This photo of Tynemouth Station is amongst my Flickr photos at:-