South Shields MP’s dismay over latest Metro delays

South Shields Metro station
South Shields Metro station

A South Shields MP says she is ‘bitterly disappointed’ with the latest Metro delays this week - but travel bosses say the causes were unusual and unexpected.

Emma Lewell-Buck says commuters are being let down after a series of delays across the system.

South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck.

South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck.

On Wednesday, trains between South Shields and Bede were suspended between 6.30am and 9.30am due to technical problems.

And on Thursday morning, trains were withdrawn between South Shields and Gateshead due to vandalism which saw a cable being thrown onto the line at Pelaw.

Mrs Lewell-Buck has previously held talks over the quality of the Metro service in Westminister Hall and wrote to the then transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin about the issues.

The Labour MP says while she appreciates Nexus have just regained the contract back from DB Regio to run the Metro service, delays are not fair on passengers.

I am bitterly disappointed to see problems again.

Emma Lewell-Buck, South Shields MP

She said: “I am bitterly disappointed to see problems again with the Metro. The reality of this situation is that people are being let down, their employment and education disrupted and confidence in the Metro service must be at an all-time low.

“I appreciate that Nexus will need time to sort out the issues now that they have taken the contract back from DB Regio but this is little consolation for those people I saw on Wednesday trying to get to work but instead waiting in a huge queue for buses at Chichester.

“Nexus are now directly managing Metro operations as of April 1. I hope they will swiftly and effectively resolve these long-standing problems, only last week in Parliament I asked again for the investment needed for new Metro cars because Metro is an economic lifeline for the people of our town.”

Raymond Johnstone, director of rail and infrastructure at Nexus, has apologised to passengers for the disruptions.

However, he says the causes were ‘very different’ and ‘not what people can expect to see in the future’.

He said: “Metro has seen a number of problems with very different causes in the last week, including acts of vandalism and flooding caused by torrential rain.

“Quick thinking by Metro staff prevented a much more serious incident after a cable was thrown onto the line near Pelaw and I want to commend them for that.

“I’m sorry for the disruption passengers have seen because this is very unusual and not what people can expect to see in future.

“We are investing around £20 million in modernising overhead power lines from this year and we are also signing new agreements with the police as we fund steps to improve security in and around Metro.

“We are also starting a programme of investment in the train fleet which we took over from the previous operator on Saturday morning.”

He added: “Passengers can trust us to put money into a better Metro for the future, and work with our staff to provide a better day-to-day experience for customers now.”