Metro services to be reduced during winter due to impact of covid
Nexus, the public body which owns and manages Metro, will operate the new timetable from Sunday, November 29, to March.
Network bosses say people will “still have access to a good level of service frequency across the network” with trains every seven minutes on weekdays from 7am to 6pm through Newcastle city centre and Gateshead.
Training across the UK rail industry was unable to take place during the first lockdown as national assessment centres that put candidates through the mandatory aptitude tests had to close.
This has impacted on the availability of Metro train crews, with a winter timetable needed while 30 new recruits who started in September go through the six-month driver training school - the largest single intake since Metro began in 1980.
Services have been hit by a series of cancellations over recent weeks due to issues over driver availability.
Operations Director, Chris Carson, said: “Reducing services is the last thing that we want to do, and it’s not a decision that we take lightly, but training has been so severely impacted by lockdown that we need to implement a winter timetable.
“I apologise in advance for the inconvenience this is going to cause to our customers.
“The reality is that train crew availability is lower than what we need it to be.
“Since the testing centres re-opened in August we do now have a record number of new drivers in training.
"These training schools got underway in September and they will take six months to complete.”
The Metro winter timetable:
• Monday to Friday: A 30 minute service 5am to 7am; A 15 minute service 7am to 6pm, so a train every 7 minutes between South Gosforth and Pelaw and a 20 minute service 6pm until the end of the day.
• Saturdays: A 30 minute service 5am to 9am; A 24 minute service 9am to 6pm, so a train every 12 minutes between South Gosforth and Pelaw; A 30 minute service from 6pm until the end of the day.
• Sundays: A 30 minute service all day, with a train every 15 minutes between South Gosforth and Pelaw.