North East UK news Hope for end to Tyne Pedestrian Tunnel renovation saga MetiNews.Com
MetiNews.Com - Frustrated transport bosses could turn to a UK-based firm to finish the long overdue tunnel refurbishment, with their current contractors unable to return from Italy
Breaking News ! A new firm could be brought in to finally complete the overdue and over-budget refurbishment of the Tyne Pedestrian and Cyclist Tunnel – because its current contractors are still stuck in Italy. The refit of the tunnel, which connects Jarrow to Howdon, should have been completed in 2015 but work remains unfinished and the project has spiralled more than £10m over budget. The only major work that is still outstanding is the installation of two new inclined glass lifts. Italian firm Maspero Elevatori is responsible for the job, but its engineers have been unable to return to the UK since January 2020 because of the Covid pandemic – meaning no progress has been made for more than a year. Exasperated North East transport bosses have revealed that they could now turn to an alternative contractor in order to finally get the renovation works finished. Councillors heard on Thursday that a UK-based company had been brought in to conduct a survey of the lifts and establish what needs to be done to make them operational – and could be asked to do the work themselves. Fiona Bootle, Tyne Tunnels manager for Transport North East, told the North East Joint Transport Committee’s Tyne and Wear Sub-committee: “We are trying to look at other options, whether this UK lift specialist can do some work either subcontracted or directly contracted. Tyne Pedestrian and Cyclist tunnel (Image: Copyright Unknown) "That is yet to be decided, but they have carried out a very useful survey which took three weeks and has gone into a lot of detail on what final tasks are needed to be carried out on these lifts. “It is not an easy job, they are very bespoke lifts that were made to fit inside that historical listed building tunnel – so the size of the lift, the incline of the lift, all of it has been made a specialist job.
. But we have made some progress there and we are hoping that when I come to the next meeting I will be able to bring some news about work being carried out on those lifts.”
Councillors have been fiercely critical of Maspero Elevatori in the past, with committee chair Gladys Hobson having accused them last November of using “every excuse in the book” to avoid finishing the long-overdue works and calling for legal action against them. As of last August, the total cost of the tunnel refit stood at £16.99m, well above the initial £6.9m budget, and it was estimated that the remaining lift works would cost £350,000 and last 10 weeks. The tunnel was reopened in August 2019, at which point it was hoped the lift works would be completed just a month later before that target was repeatedly pushed back. Usage of the tunnel is said to have increased substantially during lockdown, with an extra 100 walkers and cyclists per day using it in February 2021 compared to the same month in 2020.
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Source = MetiNews.Com