THE Prince of Wales was taking a trip on a Metro train today, 40 years after his parents performed the official opening of the Tyne and Wear rail network.

His mother, the Queen, accompanied by her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, famously visited Tyneside to formally open the Metro, on November 6, 1981.

Both royal visitors travelled on a Metro train to Gateshead where the Queen unveiled a plaque to mark the occasion.

She also dedicated the new Queen Elizabeth II Metro bridge, at that stage the sixth crossing over the River Tyne.

Nexus, the public body which owns and operates the network, said the royal opening was a proud moment for the Metro, which has become one of North East’s most successful post-war transport projects.

Chief operating officer, Martin Kearney, said: “The royal opening was a proud, iconic day for Metro and for the whole region.

“I’m sure there are many people who can remember November 6, 1981, and there are many iconic photographs and videos in the archive showing the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh as they travelled on a Metro train and opened the new Metro bridge over the Tyne.

“Metro is undoubtedly one of our region’s greatest achievements. It’s a source of immense pride and affection.”

Gateshead Council leader Martin Gannon, who chairs the North East Joint Transport Committee, said: “Metro is a vital part of the North East’s transport network and it is warming to think of its proud history including the iconic visit from Her Majesty the Queen, opening the Metro 40 years ago.

“Local people will, I’m sure, remember the day fondly, as I do.”

The 1981 royal visit, which drew large crowds in Newcastle city centre, marked the opening of Metro’s underground route from Haymarket through Monument and Central Station, continuing across the Tyne into Gateshead and on to a new southern terminus, at Heworth.

The Queen took a ticket to ride, travelling on the Metro next to the driver on the line between Monument and Gateshead.

Midway through the journey, the new Queen Elizabeth II Metro Bridge was officially opened in a ceremony cut short by a bomb scare, which, to the relief of all, came to nothing.

Events concluded with a reception at Newcastle Civic Centre.

Metro first opened to passengers in August 1980, but a royal opening did not take place until the following year.

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