Opened to the public on March 31st 2002, the line transformed travel between the two biggest cities in the North East, and continues to do so today.
The Sunderland line added a new route of 18km and 12 stations to the Metro network from Pelaw through Sunderland City Centre to South Hylton.
Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, officially opened the line during her Golden Jubilee year, travelling with the Duke of Edinburgh on May 7th 2002, from Park Lane Interchange to Fellgate, South Tyneside
The whole project to build the Sunderland line involved some unique engineering challenges. Around 13km of line between Pelaw and Sunderland were converted to Metro use by installing overhead power lines and some of the most advanced signal systems in the UK.
The line marked a milestone for the rail industry as, for the first time in the UK, local light rail and national heavy rail began sharing the same tracks, with Sunderland station playing host to Metro, Northern regional trains and now Grand Central intercity trains to London from the same platforms.
A further 4.5km of line was built from Sunderland to South Hylton using a disused railway route, until then used as a cycle path. A brand new transport interchange was also built at Park Lane, creating a major new bus station above the Metro line.
At Fellgate station, lift shafts had to be built without disturbing the 160-year-old railway embankment and at St Peter’s a new station had to be created without damaging the historic stone viaduct, a listed structure.
Eight new stations were built and three converted to Metro use from national rail, while Sunderland continues to be used by both