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North-east transport in £400m boost

Transport minister Rosie Winterton has approved a £400 million funding package for North-east transport schemes.

These include major renewals on the Tyne and Wear Metro and plans for a new river crossing in Sunderland.

Ms Winterton said: “Almost £300 million will be spent to upgrade the service and ensure smoother running trams, better stations, better services and better provision of information to customers.”

“I am also pleased that we are able to support Sunderland’s proposal to create a crucial new crossing over the River Wear with nearly £98 million in Government funding.”

Tyne and Wear Passenger Transport Executive Nexus' Metro Re-Invigoration plans are split into three phases, covering the next 20 years. These are:

Phase 1: The scheme was granted conditional approval in January 2008 and promoters expect to submit a full approval bid later this year. The bid includes more than £50 million of investment in new ticket machines and barriers, a new station at Simonside, rebuilding of Haymarket station and refurbishment at Sunderland station.

Phase 2: Beginning in April 2010 and lasting nine years, this will include modernising Metro stations, creating a new communications system, modernising overhead power lines, overhauling 160 year old bridges and tunnels, and refurbishing the 90 Metrocars that make up the train fleet.

Phase 3: Starting in 2019, following further negotiations, to cover new Metrocars, a new signalling system and further investment in ticket machines, track, overhead lines, structures and stations.

Sunderland's plans for a new crossing consist of building a new four lane multi-user bridge between Claxheugh and Castletow, creating a new gateway linking the A19 trunk road with the City centre and Port of Sunderland.

Today's decision means that Sunderland City Council can move forward with detailed planning for the scheme, including obtaining all the necessary statutory procedures, so that main construction work can potentially begin in late 2011. Completion is expected in spring 2014.