Emma Lewell-Buck: A lack of Government investment is damaging our transport system
Last weekend the Metro failed once again. The whole system ceased to operate after an electrical fault at a sub-station left the transport system's trains stranded at their depot on Sunday morning.
The whole network was left without power for 13 hours, after which a reduced service was put in place. A far cry from the Nexus signage claims that ‘We are making life a little easier ...’.
Not only were local people affected severely, but visitors from far afield attending sporting events had to pay for taxis to get to the relevant venue, increasing their costs substantially as replacement bus services were not made available.
For those who had to use their cars they had the extra expense of having to pay to park to complete their journeys.
To make matters worse, local bus companies were not accepting Metro tickets and there was no capacity to cope with the increased demand by operating additional buses. What a shambles!
I have been campaigning since being elected to Parliament for a transport system that is fit for purpose for both residents and visitors to our region. Taxpayers fund the system and should be able to rely on it.
Meetings have been held in the past with Nexus and ministers have been lobbied, promises have been made to make improvements and invest in the system, but these promises now ring hollow.
I was delighted when it was announced in January that more trains would be running in a bid to improve the service for passengers at peak times, and when a few months later my calls for DB Regio’s (the company who held responsibility for the contract with Nexus for operation of services) contract was not renewed and responsibility was placed back under Nexus’ control. Yet here we are again!
People’s employment has suffered through not being able to get to work on time, or they have been late for job interviews; patients have been late or missed appointments for health treatment and students have missed their classes.
In July this year, local MPs, including myself, wrote to the Secretary of State for Transport calling for action and investment.
Many of the problems faced by our Metro are down to the fact that the Metro cars’ expiration date has long passed, yet despite acknowledging this years ago the Government refuse to invest, spending six times more per head on transport in London than in the North East.
Unsurprisingly the Secretary of State has remained silent and we are still awaiting a response on our call for action.
I want to assure constituents that I never have stopped campaigning both in Parliament and locally for a better Metro because I and my constituents are fed up of this recurring nightmare.