Light rail and trams

01.02.16

NECA to review ‘poor performing’ Tyne & Wear Metro contract

The North East Combined Authority (NECA) is determined to cut off DB Regio from operating the Tyne & Wear Metro network when its contract expires next year if it does not improve services.

The authority’s transport lead, Cllr Nick Forbes, who is also the leader of Newcastle City Council, said NECA and the Tyne & Wear sub-committee could take advantage of a break in the contract to find a different solution for the Nexus-owned Metro.

The operating contract with DB Regio Tyne & Wear Ltd, a subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn and a part of Arriva UK, lasts until 2017, but has the option for a two-year extension to March 2019.

Cllr Forbes said: “The Metro is vital to life in the north east, and over the last few months the performance of operator DB Regio has simply not been good enough. There are signs of improvement, but DB’s overall performance has left passengers with concerns about the future of the system, concerns shared by myself, the rest of the combined authority and staff at Nexus.

“The contract could go on until 2019, but I am determined not to wait for three years before acting on those concerns, especially as on recent performance those could potentially be three very frustrating years. I have told officers at Nexus to bring forward options for the future of the Metro to council leaders by the summer. I want to know how else we might choose to run the Metro in years to come and what is being done to monitor and improve DB’s performance in the months ahead.”

The Metro contract is estimated to be worth £35m per year, but Nexus is set to levy over £447,000 in penalty payments against DB’s performance this year on behalf of “understandably disgruntled” passengers. But Cllr Forbes argued that holding back this cash should only be one part of the authority’s attempts to resolve the issue.

According to the Evening Chronicle, there have already been a number of breakdowns in 2016, with the service suspended for three days after a serious power failure.

But Sharon Kelly, DB Regio Tyne & Wear’s managing director, argued that the Metro is the “fastest growing light rail operator” outside the capital, with passenger figures topping 40 million last year, “their highest since 2011”.

“We remain committed to delivering the contract, which is due to end on 31 March 2017, on behalf of Nexus,” she added. “We remain committed to offering the best possible service to our customers until the contract comes to an end.”

Comments

D Williamson   02/02/2016 at 12:34

Instead of using refurbished old trains how about a complete upgrade of NEW trains that are not past their best and over 20yrs old. also more staff at hand would be a step in the right direction, preferably ones that are friendly and have good customer service skills, not ones to make you feel you are in the wrong for asking them a question, and an improved PA system in all stations, quite often when trains are delayed the On screen displays do not work or when they do, they do not tell you much about how long you have to wait

R Smith   02/02/2016 at 15:01

The service opened in 1980. That make the trains over 35 years old - well past their original design life.

Nonsuchmike   02/02/2016 at 16:21

When I used the system in January 2014 @ an UKRIA event @ the Uni I found the station ticket staff very helpful, but few others were visible. The train stock was very noisy and didn't give a good ride. To make sure, I traveled over to Gateshead to pay my last respects to the former home of Newcy Broon. They can do better than that old rolling stock, surely? To some extent train length/capacity is limited by platform length, but you cannot use that excuse for lack of communication within the confines of a station/ticket hall/platform.

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