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Tyneside's QuayLink scheme

What is it's purpose?
The new QuayLink system is a state of the art solution to the problem of creating a modern, clean and environmentally friendly transportation system for the re-vitalised quaysides of Newcastle and Gateshead. It is linked to existing bus and rail services as well as the Metro and will be an attractive sustainable alternative to the use of cars in this rapidly developing area of the riverside which has much to offer in business and leisure facilities
The East Quayside scheme has been a catalyst in the renaissance of both the Newcastle and Gateshead waterfronts. This successful urban waterfront regeneration project, in a dramatic setting on the north bank of the River Tyne, stretching downstream from the Malmaison Hotel, and is linked by the award winning Gateshead Millennium Bridge to Gateshead Quays, where the Baltic, a former grain warehouse converted into a new international centre for contemporary art, creates a key visual focal point across the river.
A waterfront promenade runs the length of the scheme, linking together new public spaces and buildings, including offices associated with the nearby Law Courts, a hotel and new waterfront apartments. The promenade is a hub of activity, offering among its attractions restaurant and bar facilities to visitors of all types. The opening bridge gives access across the river to the Baltic by foot and cycle, and both attract large numbers of sightseers.

History of the system

In June 2002 Newcastle City Council, Gateshead Council and the Tyne Wear Passenger Transport authority invited tenders from interested parties to operate "clean" buses on their proposed Tyne Quayside Link serving the rapidly developing areas around the River Tyne down stream from the Swing Bridge.

They invited tenders from vehicle manufacturers to deliver eight alternatively-fuelled buses, possibly hybrid electric power, for their Quayside Transit System. The service, operating to a ten-minute frequency, was to link Newcastle city centre with the Quayside areas on both sides of the River Tyne. The £5m project was to be funded with £3m from local transport plan allocation, £1m of regeneration funds for Gateshead, and £1m from developer contribution. The project was originally scheduled to be operational by 2004

Against international competition the contract to supply the vehicles was awarded to Designline, a New Zealand based vehicle manufacturer which is relatively unknown in Europe but which has been successful in developing and marketing an HEV (Hybrid Electric Vehicle) for systems in the Southern Hemisphere.

Stagecoach (North East) were chosen to operate the vehicles on behalf of the councils

The system is now complete and is operating a special truncated service for the the duration of the Tall Ships events.
Full services will be implemented from Friday 29th July 2005.

Quaylink opening ceremony

Friday 22nd July 2005.
Tyneside’s QuayLink system was officially opened today at 12 noon in a ceremony at Newcastle’s Wesley Square on the Quayside.
The ceremony was jointly performed by the Lord Mayor of Newcastle, Coun. John Slesenger and the Mayor of Gateshead, Coun. Joe Mitchinson. Also in attendance was Mr. John Conroy, Managing Director of Stagecoach (North East) Ltd.
Also present were representatives from Nexus and Designline, the New Zealand based builders of the Olymbus vehicles which are being used

(Below) Councillor Slesenger and Mitchinson look on as John Conroy speaks of the achievement in bringing the system into use.

Scenes from the opening ceremony

All ten Designline Olymbus hybrid-electric buses which will be used on the service were brought to the Quayside for the opening ceremony.
Also present were the Engineering Director of Stagecoach (North East), Mr.David Kirsopp and his staff, from Walkergate Depot who have accomplished the difficult task of commissioning the buses and taking them through the certification process for use in the U.K.
Drivers who are to be drive the buses pose for an historic photograph before the event on the Quayside.

The buses leave to start work

After the opening ceremony, which was attended by officials, press and public and featured musicians playing Tyneside folkmusic, the new buses left to start the public carrying the party to an official receptions and then to start the eagerly awaited public service from 2 p.m.
(below), all ten buses, almost silently join the quayside traffic to take their place in the public service

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