I traveled on the UK’s second-biggest Metro, which rivals London’s famous Tube. The best part was that the $7.50 all-day ticket also included unlimited travel on a ferry.

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Everyone’s heard of the UK’s biggest metro system – London Underground, known by many as just the Tube.

London Underground Tube
The London Underground.



But not as many people know about the second biggest, the Tyne and Wear Metro, an overground and underground light rail system in the North East of England.

Metro North East England Newcastle Sunderland


Sources: The Railway Hub, Nexus

It transported its first passengers in 1980, and now has around 48 miles of track, making it just a fifth of the size of the Tube.

Metro North East England Newcastle Sunderland


Source: The Railway Hub, Nexus spokesperson

It connects the cities of Newcastle and Sunderland with other towns, the coast, and even an airport through a network of 60 stations.

Metro North East England Newcastle Sunderland
Navigating the system.



It’s really distinctive, too, with its vivid yellow and black color scheme that’s used for its trains, signs, and tickets.

Metro North East England Newcastle Sunderland


I decided to spend a day traveling round on the Metro to see how it stacks up to other urban public transport systems.

Metro North East England Newcastle Sunderland


I bought an Adult DaySaver. For just £5.40 ($7.50) this got me unlimited travel across the entire network – and access to a ferry.

Tyne
A DaySaver ticket allows keen travelers to cover a lot of ground



Unlike The Tube, both the track and the stations of the Tyne and Wear Metro are mainly overground.

Metro North East England Newcastle Sunderland


The underground parts are mainly parts right in the city centers.

Metro North East England Newcastle Sunderland


Like on other subway services, the underground stations have really long escalators to take you back to ground level.

Metro North East England Newcastle Sunderland


The Metro takes passengers over two rivers, the Wear and the Tyne. This is the Metro bridge that takes you over the Wear in Sunderland …

Metro North East England Newcastle Sunderland


… while the blue bridge in the foreground here takes you over the Tyne between Newcastle and Gateshead.

Newcastle bridges


I enjoyed looking through the window on my journey …

Metro North East England Newcastle Sunderland


… including views of the cities from angles you don’t usually get to see.

Metro North East England Newcastle Sunderland


I got to see some pretty interesting stations, too. There was a really broad mix of styles.

Metro North East England Newcastle Sunderland


Some of the stations weren’t very exciting …

Metro North East England Newcastle Sunderland


… but three of the stations were located really close to sports stadiums. The Stadium of Light Metro station was painted in the colors of Sunderland Football Club …

Metro North East England Newcastle Sunderland


… while the St James station was themed around Newcastle United Football Club.

Newcastle St James metro st


Sunderland University had its own Metro station, too.

Metro North East England Newcastle Sunderland


One of the stops I got off at was South Shields, which lies at the mouth of the River Tyne, to take the ferry to North Shields.

Metro North East England Newcastle Sunderland


The ferry terminal was about a five-minute walk from the Metro station.

Metro North East England Newcastle Sunderland


The ferries run every 30 minutes in each direction, but luckily I arrived just as one was about to leave.

Metro North East England Newcastle Sunderland


The journey only took seven minutes. In the car it’s about 20 minutes because you have to drive further inland to the nearest bridge to cross the Tyne.

Metro North East England Newcastle Sunderland


I enjoyed the journey, though it did make me a little seasick. There was loads of seating and most of it had great views thanks to the big windows on all sides.

Metro North East England Newcastle Sunderland


Travel on the ferry is included with both single and DaySaver all-zone Metro tickets. But you can also buy a single ticket just for the ferry for £1.90 ($2.60).

Metro North East England Newcastle Sunderland


Source: Nexus

Like in South Shields, there was a walk of around five minutes from the ferry terminal to North Shields Metro station for the next leg of the journey.

Metro North East England Newcastle Sunderland


The Metro carriages were surprisingly clean for public transport. Though there were no trash cans onboard, the only litter I really spotted was old newspapers people had left on the seats for other travelers.

Metro North East England Newcastle Sunderland


I took my trip during the morning and early afternoon of a Tuesday during the school vacation. There weren’t many other passengers …

Metro North East England Newcastle Sunderland


… though it picked up a bit at around lunchtime.

Metro North East England Newcastle Sunderland


Nexus, which operates the Tyne and Wear Metro, mandates that passengers wear face masks, though a lot of people didn’t wear them.

Metro North East England Newcastle Sunderland


Source: Nexus

In comparison to the Tube’s 11 lines taking passengers across London, the Tyne and Wear Metro has just two lines. This made it really easy to navigate.

Metro North East England Newcastle Sunderland


The services certainly weren’t as frequent as on the Tube.

Metro North East England Newcastle Sunderland


At the stop called Central, where Newcastle’s train station is located and which sits on the overlap between the two lines, around 30 Metros pass through per hour at peak times.

Metro North East England Newcastle Sunderland


Source: Nexus

Overall, the Metro isn’t as quick or as bustling as the Tube – but it’s a little cheaper, cleaner, and has flat rates that cover both on- and off-peak times.

And with its black and yellow color scheme, it’s become an iconic part of daily life for many across the Tyne and Wear region.

Metro North East England Newcastle Sunderland