A South Tyneside MP has branded the delay-plagued Metro service ‘truly unacceptable’ – after fed-up passengers bore the brunt of another round of transport chaos.
South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck insists a rail services overhaul needs to take place ‘sooner rather than later’ – after a train failure on Wednesday evening left scores of frustrated commuters stranded for hours.
Hundreds of passengers saw their journey plans brought to a halt when the line between Pelaw to Hebburn and Brockley Whins was suspended from about 6.30pm until the end of service for the day.
Metro operator Nexus has apologised to passengers and says the delays were heightened when the failed train damaged a set of points on the tracks – increasing the wait to get the train moved and leading to repair work on the damaged rails.
Mrs Lewell-Buck said; “The situation with the Metro is truly unacceptable and passengers are rightly very frustrated by these sorts of delays.
“Nexus is carrying out a major review of where the network is failing, but with the weather getting worse we need to know what action they are going to take sooner rather than later.
The situation with the Metro is truly unacceptable.Emma Lewell-Buck MP
“It’s obvious that improvements need to be made in the way Metro is run, but it’s also true that the trains and infrastructure need an overhaul, and I’m going to keep pressing the Government until they recognise the need for more investment in our Metro.”
A spokesman for Nexus said:“There were delays due to a failed train at Pelaw. We apologise to our customers for the disruption.
“The length of the delays was heightened by the failed train somehow damaging a set of points on the tracks. This meant it took much longer to get the train moved out of the way and then the damaged rails had to be repaired overnight.
“We are now investigating how this damage occurred.
“We arranged for local buses to accept Metro tickets and special replacement buses were called in to operate in the affected area.
“The damaged points were fixed during the night and trains services resumes as normal yesterday morning.”
•Video by BBC
Lewell-Buck’s Westminster calls for service overhaul
Mrs Lewell-Buck has held talks with Metro operators after receiving a flood of complaints from delay-hit passengers.
The Labour politician shared her constituents’ complaints over service hold-ups during a meeting with Nexus’ director of Rail and Infrastructure, Raymond Johnstone in February.
She called for the meeting after residents inundated her with transport tales of woe – sparked by faulty trains and power failures.
After the meeting she said she had been given ‘strong assurances’ that service standards would improve in the months to come.
Mrs Lewell-Buck said: “I was given strong assurances that services will improve in the coming months, and I will be watching closely to make sure that promise is delivered.”
But she stepped up her rail campaign after continuing to hear of transport problems on a daily basis.
She then championed the cause of commuters in Westminster in May as a raft of rail concerns continued to fill her in-tray.
She wrote to Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin over concerns about poor service on the Tyne & Wear Metro in May in a bid to secure Government intervention to tackle the track troubles.
Mrs Lewell-Buck organised a debate in Westminster Hall in response to growing frustration from passengers with Metro performance.
On the day of the debate itself, ticket machine failures caused serious delays for passengers.
MPs heard that more than 800 hours of delays had been recorded in the last year, and that constituents had been docked pay for missing work as a result of transport delays.