Train staff were “standing rock solid” in support of strike action which has shut down the Tyne and Metro rail system, their union said.
The strike on Friday and Saturday will affect Christmas shoppers as well as fans attending Newcastle United’s home game against Crystal Palace.
Operators Nexus offered drivers a 15% pay increase, but this was rejected.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “Our members are standing rock solid this morning and the wholesale shutdown of services is entirely due to Nexus who have made no effort to resolve this dispute.
“The company attitude shows nothing but contempt for our reasonable and justifiable claim which would provide flexibility for the introduction of the new rolling stock whilst seeing a fair increase in salary levels and a reduction in the working week for Traincrew grades.
“Management have rejected our proposals out of hand claiming there is no money which is total nonsense.”
It has previously been reported that drivers have been leaving the Metro for better-paid jobs elsewhere in the rail industry.
The Metro system is tax-payer subsidised and links North Tyneside and Newcastle with Gateshead, South Tyneside and Sunderland.
The operator is about to introduce a new fleet of trains, and as well as the pay increase, and Nexus has asked drivers to change their working practices.