Recently, Tyne and Wear Public Transport Users Group (TWPTUG) has received an increase in the number of complaints from travellers who rely upon the Metro about the increase in delays and disruption to the service across the entire network.
We have also seen the recent hike in fares. People must be very angry at the poor service they are getting for their hard earned money.
However, at the heart of this issue is the need for reliability and every user, whether travelling to work, school, shops or to care, just cannot rely upon the service at present. Transport, like NHS, is a vital social service.
TWPTUG took these concerns to Nexus who agreed the situation was serious and shared our concerns about the delays travellers were experiencing. We began by discussing the Monday, January 12, failure of power supply to the system for a second time in a week.
Nexus advised this was due to problems with the private company who hold the franchise to supply power to the system. Nexus agreed they need to hold the company to account and also improve their recovery systems and speed of communication with the public, when there are serious delays.
So the problem here lies clearly with two areas: the Metro trains are too old and need replacing. We need to bring forward government investment required to replace them (with spending per person in London 24 times north east).
Secondly, we the passengers have to rely on Nexus being enabled to ensure these companies deliver what they are contracted to do and what we the tax payers are paying for.
TWPTUG has concerns about the imbalance between the interests (profits) of the shareholders of these companies and the needs of the public who rely on the service; in this case, the Metro passenger.
We would ask here which is coming first, the shareholders of DB Regio and the power company or the public who rely on the service.
Nexus need to ensure that the travelling public are put first and the contract they have with these companies can demonstrate this.
Happily, we have seen a huge increase in the number of people using the Metro in recent years. This is a success story if we are serious about tackling climate change, traffic congestion and air pollution.
So it is vital that the service they receive is reliable, safe, comfortable and integrated well with other public transport. It is not that at present. All the trains are too old and need replacing (internal refurbishment has not affected mechanical side of trains).
We would urge passengers who read this to lobby their councillors and MPs to call for this investment as a matter of urgency.
Chair, Tyne and Wear Public Transport Users Group