Metro boss admits system could have done better job over line closure plans

Nexus managing director Tobyn Hughes
Nexus managing director Tobyn Hughes

Metro bosses have admitted they could have done a better job of keeping people up to date on planned work on the system in South Tyneside following a backlash from businesses.

Seafront traders in South Shields were left fearing a slump in visitor numbers over one of their busiest trading periods of the year, following the latest announcement by transport operator Nexus.

Metro services face disruption

Metro services face disruption

This over planned track shut downs over the Easter and May Bank Holiday weekends.

Their complaints have forced an apology from transport chiefs to anyone likely to be ‘inconvenienced by the line closures’.

Nexus’s managing director Tobyn Hughes told a meeting of the North East Joint Transport Committee, “We haven’t necessarily done community engagement to the extent we would like.

“We have to make sure communities affected are informed. We think we’re among the best in the country in terms of making sure the public are informed of our plans.”

Metro services are due to be disrupted over three weekends that will see 1.6 kilometres of line replaced between Gateshead Stadium and Felling.

Replacement buses will be in place during the project, which is part of the £350million Metro: all change modernisation programme.

The planned disruptions to services are:

Saturday, April 13 – Sunday, April 14 – no trains from Monument, in Newcastle, to Hebburn/Brockley Whins, in South Tyneside

Friday, April 19 – Sunday, April 22, Easter weekend – no trains from Gateshead Stadium to Hebburn/Brockley Whins

Saturday, May 4 – Monday, May 6 – no trains from Monument to Hebburn/Brockley Whins

Replacement bus services, number 900 and 901, will be calling at or close to all Metro stations in the affected areas when the lines are closed, but passengers have been to allow extra time if travelling through the affected areas.

Mr Hughes also the transport committee a presentation on the changes Nexus and the Metro have gone through since 2010.

He said: “We were a very different organisation [in 2010], we didn’t have long term funding, so we couldn’t long term plan.

“Spit and sellotape would not be an unreasonable was to describe maintenance – whatever broke our team went and made safe.

“What we’ve become in the period, thanks to a lot of hard work, is a major engineering and project management firm, but that’s largely unseen by the general public.

“The project management discipline that we’ve learned are things we’ve learned along the way.

“Another thing we learned quite early on was is community engagement, how to work with trackside neighbours, people who use the system and the businesses which rely on it.”

James Harrison

James Harrison , Local Democracy Reporting Service