Metro emergency plans revealed: The stations which get priority in event of a 'catastrophic failure'
The stations which are given top priority if the Tyne and Wear Metro suffers a catastrophic failure have been unveiled.
A Nexus document reveals how transport bosses decide which routes to focus their attention on in the event of a total shutdown of the network caused by severe weather, technical malfunctions, or other disasters.
It also states that it is “highly unlikely” that enough buses could be found to cover the entire network if there is a comprehensive network failure, where train provision is between zero and 20%.
Metro chiefs say that the emergency plan was last set to be put into action during the Beast from the East storm last year, but was not needed.
According to the contingency document, obtained by a Freedom of Information request, Metro staff are instructed to restore train services in this order in the event that they cannot provide a 30-minute frequency systemwide:
1) Airport to Heworth to Sunderland; failing this, Airport-Heworth supplemented by Northern services to Sunderland
2) South Gosforth to Monkseaton
3) Heworth to South Shields
4) Whitley Bay to St James (unless it proves easier to keep this open alongside South Gosforth-Monkseaton) Sunderland to South Hylton
This is the priority list for providing replacement bus services if trains are off:
1) Airport to Regent Centre
2) South Hylton to East Boldon
3) Regent Centre to Whitley Bay
4) Manors to North Shields
5) Heworth to South Shields
The contingency plan document says that passengers living outside those areas should rely on normal bus services, unless Metro can procure sufficient vehicles to build up a full bus replacement service.
Metro Services Director, Chris Carson, said: “Metro is normally a very convenient and reliable way to travel – but we must prepare for every level of disruption when our top priority is to look after our customers and help them complete their journey. We work hard to make sure these plans are ready.
“We keep our planning documents under constant review because we learn from incidents which do occur, and we follow approved national guidelines on how to manage service disruptions on the railways effectively.
“If Metro trains are not running we provide ticket acceptance on local bus routes immediately then also bring in dedicated replacement buses between stations as soon as we can. It is hard for buses to match the frequency or capacity Metro offers, so if we have a limited number of vehicles we will target them where the local bus network is thin and our passengers would have few other options, while pointing people to local bus routes elsewhere.
“If we did not have enough trains for a service every 30 minutes or were unable to maintain the whole infrastructure, for example during severe weather, we would concentrate on key stations. In that case we would start with connecting city centres and transport gateways like Airport and Heworth to benefit the largest number of people, then build up from there.
“We were starting to prepare to use this plan when the Beast From The East hit in 2018, but we didn’t need to because the depot and track staff did an amazing job and Metro kept going even when most of the region’s transport routes were snowed out.”