South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck has called for greater investment in the “grossly outdated” Tyne and Wear Metro system after disruption brought more transport misery yesterday.
A reported fire at Newcastle’s Central Station led to it being closed for more than two hours from 7.40am, resulting in a rush-hour headache for early-morning travellers across the system.
Its closure left commuters travelling to South Tyneside stations late for work and appointments, and having to make alternative travel plans.
Earlier in the morning there had also been 15- minute delays across the system due to an overhead line fault between Monument and Gateshead.
Mrs Lewell-Buck raised her concerns over Metro reliability in a debate in Parliament earlier this year, saying the service was not providing “value for money”.
She had been inundated with complaints from fed-up constituents over a lack of reliability.
And although she admits those complaints have fallen over recent months, she believes yesterday’s delays emphasise the need for a major injection of cash.
She said: “To be fair the number of complaints I have received from constituents has fallen recently, things seem to have calmed down, and reliability seems to have improved.
“But that doesn’t take away from the reality that the Metro system is grossly outdated and it is crying out for major investment.
“The minister acknowledged as much to me during the debate in Parliament. The system cannot be allowed to be neglected any longer.”
A Metro spokesman said: “We are working hard to address the issue of Metro’s performance.
“Aside from Friday’s incident, we have seen a steady improvement in punctuality over the last few months.
“We are working hard alongside DB Regio to get Metro’s reliability back to where it ought to be for the 38 million passengers who travel on the system each year.
“We are currently half way through a £389million programme of investment in Metro infrastructure.
“We have also begun talking to the Government about the need to replace Metro’s fleet of trains. Nexus, supported by local politicians, will be making a strong case for investment in new rolling stock.”