Latest Rail News

14.12.15

Government cuts Tyne and Wear Metro modernisation funding by £33m

The government’s commitment to creating a Northern Powerhouse has come under question after the DfT revealed a £33m cut in investment to upgrading the Tyne & Wear Metro.

DfT and Nexus agreed an 11-year funding programme for Metro modernisation in February 2010, worth up to £350m, with £100m of that subject to future commitments being met. 

But the Department, having promised to invest £153m in the Metro over the next five years, wrote to Nexus after the Spending Review to say this would be reduced to £120m. 

Cllr Nick Forbes, the North East Combined Authority’s lead member for transport, said: “The government tells us that investment in transport infrastructure across the north is a top priority – but in light of a £33m cut in investment in the Metro we need to take a reality check. 

“This reduced level of investment will mean that we will have to focus on the most urgent renewal projects to tracks, overhead lines and signals and cut back our ambitions to improve the Metro.” 

He added that a number of planned projects will now have to be shelved – including accessibility upgrades to some stations. 

Tobyn Hughes, MD of Nexus, the public body which owns and manages Metro, said it is helpful to receive funding certainty for the next five years, although it is also “clearly disappointing the figure is £33m less than the maximum we had been working to”. 

“We will now need to review our priorities within the planned modernisation programme.   More positively, the DfT acknowledges the need for both a new Metro fleet and the long-term continuation of essential renewals after 2021,” he said. 

“It also recognises the Combined Authority’s ambition for expansion of the system and future integration of the Metro with the rail network, and will continue to work with us on developing the business cases to achieve these ambitions.” 

A DfT spokesperson said that the £317m the Department promised was £13m above the minimum the government promised when the agreement was originally reached. 

“The recent Spending Review announced £120m funding over the next five years for Metro’s ongoing reinvigoration programme and confirmed the networks running costs will be fully supported until 2019”, they said. 

Cllr Forbes, who is also the leader of Newcastle City Council, added that the “one bright spot” on the horizon is the fact that the North East devolution deal will mean that in the future we will have much more control and certainty over finances in the region – and be less dependent on decisions made in Whitehall. 

“This will mean that we can set our own priorities and be confident that we will be able to deliver,” he said. 

In June, Nexus announced it was to invest £40m in modernisation works for the Tyne & Wear Metro over the next 12 months, replacing track, refurbishing trains and installing a new rail traffic management system.

Comments

Lutz   15/12/2015 at 18:21

I would be surprised if there was any significant change to the funding envelopes when devolution comes into practice; any additional funding will have to be raised 'locally'. The main change will be the devolution of the allocation and prioritisation of funds.

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