Chancellor confirms £337million to replace Metro rolling stock

Artist's impression of how new Metro trains may look
Artist's impression of how new Metro trains may look

Chancellor Phillip Hammond made the announcement as part of his Budget speech today. The system has been plagued by an increasing number of break-downs in the last few years, with rolling stock now four decades old. The Government has confirmed it is investing £337 million of to overhaul the system, replacing the 40-year-old trains with a brand-new fleet. Nexus managing director Tobyn Hughes said: "The Government has recognised how vital Metro is to the economy and lives of people in North East England.  "We made a strong case for funding which enjoyed very widespread and active support from the business community as well as our passengers.  "This announcement allows us to begin the search for a train builder immediately, and see new Metrocars start to arrive little more than four years from now." But it will be a while yet before the replacement process is complete, with Nexus predicting the first new trains will not appear for another four years. It will issue a formal notice in January, inviting firms to tender for the contract, followed in April by a Pre-Qualification Questionnaire, enabling it to evaluate the suitability of the bidders in relation to their technical knowledge, experience, capability and financial and economic standing, before an invitation to negotiate to set out the terms of the tender process is issued in July. Tenders will be submitted and considered between June and September 2019 and a contract is expected to be issued in February 2020, with the first of the new rolling stock to be delivered late in 2021. Replacement of the entire fleet of 84 trains is expected to take another two to three years. People living across the North East will benefit from investments in housing, health, transport and technology, as the Chancellor today set out a Budget that will help build an economy fit for the future. Included in the first Autumn Budget, are investments to ensure economic growth is shared across all parts of the country, as the UK tackles its productivity challenge and bolsters its position as a world leader in high-tech industries. Other announcements for the North East in today's Budget include: *a North Tyne devolution deal including £600 million of extra funding. The new combined authority, which will be led by a directly-elected mayor, will choose how to spend this money on local priorities. An inclusive growth board will be set up to ensure all 815,000 people living and working in the area benefit from the economic growth this creates; *£59million for transport improvements to be determined by the Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen to connect people to jobs and make journeys quicker for everybody. Other towns and cities across the region  will be able to bid into an £840million fund to support transport projects in their area; *Newcastle will become home to a Tech Hub, supporting businesses and skills in the area to thrive and prosper. This is part of a national expansion of Tech City, and the region will receive a share of £21 million to support this; *the government will provide £5 million to help enable the South Tees Development Corporation to take ownership of the SSI Redcar Steelworks site, and will work with local partners to prepare the site for development; *an extra £4 million boost to spending on flood defences including in Northumberland. This builds on the £26 million recently invested in the Morpeth flood alleviation scheme, which was completed last year and protects more than 1,000 local homes and businesses. The Chancellor set out his Budget against a backdrop of strong economic growth across the region. There are more people in work in the North East than ever before, with an employment rate at a record high (72.7%). In the last year, the region has had the fastest productivity growth (+11.8 ppt) and rise in in household gross income (+3.9 ppt). As new technologies create new opportunities and better jobs, the Chancellor is clear everyone must benefit. The Budget includes a boost for skills to give people living across the North East the training they need to succeed and get the highly-paid jobs of the future. Mr Hammond, said: "Today’s Budget sets out how we will build an economy fit for the future through driving innovation, creating better paid jobs and building the homes this country needs. "The investments I have announced today back the North East with a significant cash boost for transport improvements to connect people to jobs and make journeys quicker for everybody right across the region." Since 2015, over £273 million has been committed to individual military charities and other good causes. This Budget’s award of £36million continues the provision of banking fines to Armed Forces and Emergency Services charities and other related good causes, and takes the total committed since 2012 to £773 million. Local charities in the North East receiving this funding will include Single Homeless Action Initiative In Durham  (SHAID), which will get £61,000 to support the provision of accommodation for Homeless Veterans in Durham.

Chancellor Phillip Hammond made the announcement as part of his Budget speech today.

The system has been plagued by an increasing number of break-downs in the last few years, with rolling stock now four decades old.

The Government has confirmed it is investing £337 million of to overhaul the system, replacing the 40-year-old trains with a brand-new fleet.

Nexus managing director Tobyn Hughes said: "The Government has recognised how vital Metro is to the economy and lives of people in North East England.

"We made a strong case for funding which enjoyed very widespread and active support from the business community as well as our passengers.

The Chancellor has announced Metro rolling stock is to be replaced

The Chancellor has announced Metro rolling stock is to be replaced

"This announcement allows us to begin the search for a train builder immediately, and see new Metrocars start to arrive little more than four years from now."

Rail Minister Paul Maynard said: “When your rolling stock is something like 40 years told, there are only so may times you can refurbish it.

"This is all part of turning the Northern Powerhouse into more than just a catchphrase and making it a reality.

"We have been in discussion with Nexus for a while now to make sure we are in exactly the right situation."

Tobyn Hughes

Tobyn Hughes

But it will be a while yet before the replacement process is complete, with Nexus predicting the first new trains will not appear for another four years.

It will issue a formal notice in January, inviting firms to tender for the contract, followed in April by a Pre-Qualification Questionnaire, enabling it to evaluate the suitability of the bidders in relation to their technical knowledge, experience, capability and financial and economic standing, before an invitation to negotiate to set out the terms of the tender process is issued in July.

Tenders will be submitted and considered between June and September 2019 and a contract is expected to be issued in February 2020, with the first of the new rolling stock to be delivered late in 2021.

Replacement of the entire fleet of 84 trains is expected to take another two to three years.

Emma Lewell-Buck

Emma Lewell-Buck

South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck, who has been a vocal campaigner for the replacement of the Metro fleet, said: “I am, of course, very pleased that at last the campaigning has paid off and money has been released for investment in our Metro for new rolling stock.

"Despite this good news, the Chancellor made no commitment on public sector pay, offered nothing for our schools, nothing to address the crises created by his Government in adults and children’s social care or mental health, yet he is allocating more money to local areas to help force through the plans that will see the downgrading of our NHS, including our own Hospital.

"The Chancellor’s upbeat and jovial manner in today’s Statement was an insult to so many in our country who are struggling to get by."

Coun Ed Malcolm, Lead Member for Resources and Innovation at South Tyneside Council said: "The universal credit package goes some way to alleviate concerns we have about its implementation in February next year.

"As an area of deprivation, the impact of the Government’s welfare reform agenda has been felt more so locally than in other parts of the country. Households have experienced continued hardship and demand for Council services has increased.

"Elsewhere the grant for Tyne & Wear Metro will be welcome news for many residents. This investment is much needed and long overdue.

Bridget Phillipson

Bridget Phillipson

"Overall though, unfortunately the reality is that austerity continues. Despite a number of attention grabbing statements there is no money to alleviate the crippling cuts that this Council has had to make and will have to continue to make."

Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott said: "I welcome the news that the Government has at last given a commitment to fund the replacement of the Metro’s failing rolling stock, something I have campaigned for with colleagues for many years.

"However, there was nothing to address the underlying issues Sunderland has with high unemployment, low wages and the impact of the enormous cuts this Government has inflicted on our people."

Her Houghton and Sunderland South colleague Bridget Phillipson said: "I welcome the Chancellor’s announcement on the creaking rolling stock on the Metro - it can’t come soon enough. But people deserved so much more.

"The Tories promised they’d eliminate the deficit by 2015 but it currently stands at £38 billion, and government borrowing rose by half a billion last month compared to October 2016.

"They said that the short-term pain of cuts to vital public services was necessary but we’re facing the weakest long-term economic growth since at least 1983.

"Unemployment in the North East remains the highest in the country, Northumbria Police has had its budget reduced more than any other police force in England and Wales, local schools are stretched, and NHS services are really struggling to cope with rising demand and plummeting GP numbers."

Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West, said: "The Chancellor’s announcement that funding will go to refurbish the Metro’s rolling stock is a welcome one, however, the rest of the Budget failed to fill me with much confidence.

"This Budget shows a Tory Government overseeing a fragile economy with the slowest economic recovery since the 1920s and growth revised down over the next five years.

"What was needed was real change."

Tyne and Wear Public Transport Users Group has campaigned for replacement of the Metro fleet.

Chairman Vicki Gilbert said: "It is a shame that the Government has taken all year to make this decision, and it has needed huge pressure from campaigners, councils, MPs, unions and business, otherwise we could have had the new trains in 2020."

Other announcements for the North East in today's Budget include:

*a North Tyne devolution deal including £600 million of extra funding. The new combined authority, which will be led by a directly-elected mayor, will choose how to spend this money on local priorities. An inclusive growth board will be set up to ensure all 815,000 people living and working in the area benefit from the economic growth this creates;

*£59million for transport improvements to be determined by the Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen to connect people to jobs and make journeys quicker for everybody. Other towns and cities across the region will be able to bid into an £840million fund to support transport projects in their area;

*Newcastle will become home to a Tech Hub, supporting businesses and skills in the area to thrive and prosper. This is part of a national expansion of Tech City, and the region will receive a share of £21 million to support this;

*the government will provide £5 million to help enable the South Tees Development Corporation to take ownership of the SSI Redcar Steelworks site, and will work with local partners to prepare the site for development;

*an extra £4 million boost to spending on flood defences including in Northumberland. This builds on the £26 million recently invested in the Morpeth flood alleviation scheme, which was completed last year and protects more than 1,000 local homes and businesses.

The Chancellor set out his Budget against a backdrop of strong economic growth across the region. There are more people in work in the North East than ever before, with an employment rate at a record high (72.7%). In the last year, the region has had the fastest productivity growth (+11.8 ppt) and rise in in household gross income (+3.9 ppt).

As new technologies create new opportunities and better jobs, the Chancellor is clear everyone must benefit. The Budget includes a boost for skills to give people living across the North East the training they need to succeed and get the highly-paid jobs of the future.

Mr Hammond, said: "Today’s Budget sets out how we will build an economy fit for the future through driving innovation, creating better paid jobs and building the homes this country needs.

"The investments I have announced today back the North East with a significant cash boost for transport improvements to connect people to jobs and make journeys quicker for everybody right across the region."

Since 2015, over £273 million has been committed to individual military charities and other good causes. This Budget’s award of £36million continues the provision of banking fines to Armed Forces and Emergency Services charities and other related good causes, and takes the total committed since 2012 to £773 million.

Local charities in the North East receiving this funding will include Single Homeless Action Initiative In Durham (SHAID), which will get £61,000 to support the provision of accommodation for Homeless Veterans in Durham.

Sharon Hodgson

Sharon Hodgson

Julie Elliott

Julie Elliott