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Fri June 25 2021

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GB to refurbish Tyne tunnels

16 May 13 GB Building Solutions has been awarded a £4.9m contract to refurbish, renovate and modernise the pedestrian and cycle tunnels under the River Tyne.

Tyne tunnel escalators
Tyne tunnel escalators

The tunnels and facilities date back to 1951 and are Grade II listed.  The contract was awarded by Tyne & Wear Integrated Transport Authority.

The project is expected to start on site on the 20th May and will take 56 weeks.

The 274.5m tunnels were the first purpose-built tunnels in the UK to be used by both cyclists and pedestrians. They run in parallel 12.2m below the river bed of the Tyne.  The programme of works includes the installation of two inclined lifts, which are expected to become something of an attraction for their novelty value.

The refurbishment project includes the removal of two wooden escalators, one each side of the river. When they were built, they were the longest single-rise escalators in the world, with a vertical rise of 85ft (25.9m) and a length of approximately 200ft (61m). They are believed still to be the longest wooden-step escalators in Europe, so two will be preserved for historic significance.

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In addition to the installation of the two new inclined lifts, GB will replace the mechanical and electrical services and carry out the refurbishment and renovation of certain parts the buildings and tunnels.

GB Group chairman and chief executive Martin Smout said: “The tunnels are a key transport link in Tyneside and of historic significance.  The work that GB will do to restore and refurbish them will ensure that the tunnels remain an active part of the Tyneside transport links for many years to come.”

Paul Fenwick, Tyne & Wear Integrated Transport Authority (TWITA) said: “All four original escalators are now out of service and beyond economic repair, so this refurbishment will give the tunnels a new lease of life and will greatly improve the experience for users.”

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