The police have changed tactics for the Sunderland v Newcastle match on Easter Sunday.

The December match at St. James’ Park had seen a change to the norm, with the Sunderland fans who didn’t travel on the free coaches directed to use normal metro and train services, rather than the dedicated match ones that normally operated on derby day.

That change appeared to be an attempt to move away from the big escort up to St. James’ Park which had become a major flashpoint every time the two clubs met. The idea of smaller groups of supporters being escorted up to the ground appeared to work better and produced generally favourable feedback.

However, the police don’t appear to think that this is the way to go when managing the situation on Wearside.

Instead Northern Rail will as usual be providing direct trains specifically for supporters, from Newcastle Central Station to St Peter’s and back, though the train times have yet to be confirmed.

There are also direct Metro services for the travelling Newcastle fans to use, these stop only at Central Station and St Peter’s stations. They will leave Newcastle at 2.39pm and 2.46pm respectively.

For the return journey there will also be two Metros running direct from St Peter’s station to Central Station, these will be leaving at 6.27pm and 6.35pm respectively. No doubt special trains will also be provided but details awaited.

Chief Supt Steve Neill said:

“There are a range of options for fans to get to the game and the best advice would be to plan ahead and give yourself extra time as it will be a busy Sunday.

“The coaches are the quickest way to get to and from the game. There are direct Metro and train services on the day, but these will be busy.

“Fans told us that direct trains from Newcastle to Sunderland were something they would like to retain, so this will be available for the coming derby, and in addition the same options and opportunities afforded to Sunderland fans in December will be available for Newcastle fans travelling to Sunderland this time round.

“Northumbria and British Transport Police officers will be based at Central Station and will not be allowing people who are drunk or are causing trouble to get onto the trains. We would also remind fans that it is an offence to attempt to enter the stadium whilst being under the influence of alcohol.”