The first part of what is now the Airport line opened in 1981 between South Gosforth and Bank Foot. The line used most of the former Ponteland branch, built in 1905 but closed to passengers in 1929. At the time of conversion to Metro services, the line was used by British Rail freight services to Rowntrees chocolate factory at Fawdon and I.C.I. Callington (beyond Bank Foot).
In a situation which remains unique on modern British light rail systems, these freight trains continued to run along Metro tracks until 1989, when the freight-only line beyond Bank Foot was closed. Part of this line was converted to Metro operation for the extension to Newcastle Airport, re-opening in 1991. Since the opening of the Sunderland extension in 2002, Metro trains have run along the same tracks as mainline passenger and freight services, but the line belongs to Network Rail and is part of the national mainline network (another situation unique on British light rail systems).
All of the stations on this line were constructed for the Metro, although Bank Foot, Fawdon and Regent Centre are on the sites of former railway stations.
The line is double track throughout. Services generally run every 12 minutes through the day, from Airport via Newcastle to Park Lane (Sunderland). Alternate trains continue to South Hylton, and there are peak-hour short workings from Regent Centre to Pelaw.
Airport station is an island platform, serving the airport terminal building. From the terminus trains travel for a short distance on a new formation, before joining the alignment of the former I.C.I. Callerton freight line. There is an intermediate station at Callerton Parkway, and double track all the way to the former Metro terminus at Bank Foot.
Bank Foot was the original terminus of the Metro's Green Line, and was built with a single platform. British Rail freight trains used seperate through tracks. When the freight line beyond Bank Foot was closed and the Metro's Airport extension built, double-track running was introduced and a second platform was built. Between and Foot and Regent Centre there are intermediate stations at Kingston Park, Fawdon and Wansbeck Road.
Just after Regent Centre station the line passes under the old Great North Road, once the main A1 road between London and Edinburgh. Immediately after the bridge is Gosforth depot, and there are connections from the running lines into the depot. The passenger lines pass the depot to the south, before turning right and meeting the lines from the Tyne Coast line at Gosforth South Junction. Just after the junction is South Gosforth station.
As the running lines pass the start of Gosforth depot, a single-track depot avoiding line branches left (at Gosford West Junction) and passes the depot on the north side, connecting to the Tyne Coast line between South Gosforth and Longbenton. This line is not normally used for passenger services, but for empty stock workings. When the Metro first opened, this line was used by the British Rail freight trains from I.C.I. Callington and Rowntrees at Fawdon, to reach the Blyth and Tyne line near Benton station.
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