Nexus respond to criticism about Metro delays

Photograph by M Novak under creative commons licence

Photograph by M Novak under creative commons licence

Nexus’s current Metro contract with DB Regio Tyne and Wear Ltd, which is due to expire this year, will not be renewed.

Last month Nexus confirmed their plan to manage Tyne and Wear Metro directly for two years following April 2017 when the current contract expires.

Nexus told JesmondLocal both parties of the current contract are dissatisfied with the structure and financial and operational performance of the current contract. “Passenger outcomes” – or satisfaction levels from those who use the Metro day-to-day – are at a lower level than is acceptable.

An analysis of tweets by Paul Smith, former head of Newcastle start-up accelerator Ignite100, found that the Metro experienced significant disruptions to its service on three out of every four days over a seven-month period from July 2015.

A number of the most persistent complaints about late-running services and train breakdowns are focused in the Jesmond area. The latest such incident occurred on April 4th, with a 45-minute delay on trains running through West Jesmond, leaving passengers stranded and angry.

Sophie Phillips, a West Jesmond resident, complained of multiple delays in the running of the Metro to Central Station toJesmondLocal. She explained she has in the past not only missed her mainline connecting train, but an important workshop as a result of poor performance on the Metro.

“I was relieved that the station was aware of the Metro’s problems and allowed me to use my ticket on the next available train, but their awareness only serves to demonstrate the consistent unreliability of the system,” she said.

Metro’s Facebook page is riddled with complaints of this nature. Employees travelling to the city centre for work, like Jesmond resident Poppy Massey, face cancellation of Metros, resulting in commuters having to arrange alternative transportation in a hurry.

Nexus’s plan to take back the running of the Metro has happened as the company continues its £350m ongoing modernisation programme to refurbish Metro trains and replace tracks, essential cables, radio systems, and lifts and escalators within stations.

A Nexus spokesperson told JesmondLocal that “we will continue to work closely with DB Regio to improve Metro reliability. Despite recent problems Metro has record passenger numbers which are at a five year high at 40 million.”

Tobyn Hughes, Managing Director of Nexus said: “Managing Metro directly for a limited period will allow Nexus to prepare the Metro business for the significant change that will come with further investment of more than £400m in a new train fleet in the coming years”.

A four-point plan has been proposed to focus on the train fleet, aiming to improve reliability of the trains, and communication channels with customers. Passenger numbers demonstrate for Nexus how valued the Metro services are to people in Tyne and Wear.

A business case for the new train fleet is currently being progressed with the hope of the fleet to be introduced in the early 2020s. Nexus expect the case to expose benefits of investment to fund-holders and other stakeholders, and for this to be completed this summer.

DB Regio will continue to operate Metro until the end of March 2017. Nexus reassured JesmondLocal of their commitment to the contract in its final year. Hughes said: “An investment package has been agreed to improve performance over the final year of the contract”.