Nexus apologises to passengers after catalogue of delays causes travel misery across Sunderland and South Tyneside
Last month saw the closure of the line between South Hylton and Park Lane due to flooding which damaged an electrical substation in the Pallion area which requires major repairs.
The reopening of the line between Pelaw and South Shield’s was delayed for 10 days, despite having already been closed for 12 weeks due to work on the £104 million Metro Flow project.
The dualling of the track was designed to allow greater flow of trains and improve reliability, but after reopening yesterday (Wednesday December 14) there have already been long delays this morning (December 15) of up to 40 minutes on this stretch of track.
A Nexus spokesperson said: “We appreciate customers are frustrated with recent disruption to Metro services and we are sorry for the inconvenience caused.
“A range of issues have beset the network in recent weeks, including severe cold causing more train failures, the Metro Flow line closure being extended, and Network Rail’s power supply issues on the Sunderland line.”
The spokesperson also cited this week’s extreme weather and an ageing fleet of trains which will be addressed as the new £362million batch of trains are introduced next year.
They added: “We are working hard with our colleagues at Stadler to address the issues of train fleet reliability.
“The current fleet is over 40 years-old and they are more susceptible to breakdowns in severe cold weather.
“We’ve seen more train faults this week due to the effects of sub-zero temperatures. The result has been more trains withdrawn from service which has caused longer waits for customers.
“We have a plan in place to mitigate the effects of the cold which involves storing more of our rolling stock at sub-surface stations overnight. This has started work.
“Over the next couple of years the new Metro train fleet will start to enter service and they will cope better in harsh winters.
“They will have a more modern design compared to the existing fleet so will naturally be more robust than our much older existing fleet. The design of the new train takes into consideration the nominal temperature ranges throughout seasonal change in the North East.
"They have parking and stabling modes that keep the vehicle in a state of readiness for entry into service, and the new train has systems to protect it against the cold weather.”
Work to repair the electrical substation at Pallion is being carried out by Network Rail.
The spokesperson said: “The issues customers have experienced on the Sunderland line is linked to flooding at Pallion electrical substation. Network Rail own and manage the line and they need to completely rebuild that substation. They aim to have that work completed in early January.
“While the Pallion power supply issue is ongoing, Network Rail will only allow us to operate a 24-minute service between Pelaw and Park Lane. This is why trains have been noticeably busier in the morning and in the evening peaks.
“Metro is a vital public service which serves communities across Tyne and Wear. Customers can be assured we are working flat out and leaving no stone unturned to ensure that the service improves after recent setbacks.”