THE German rail company which runs the Metro system has been fined £500,000 over train delays.
DB Regio took over the day-to-day operating of the Tyne and Wear Metro – including the Sunderland line – in 2010, and in 2011 it won Operator of the Year accolade at the 2011 Light Rail Awards.
But after a year of less-than-impressive performance against its strict targets, transport executive Nexus has decided to without £500,000 of payments as a penalty.
Metro users have been angry at regular delays and upheaval, although some of the hold ups were down to upgrade work on the line.
It is believed some delays were down to DB Regio not running enough trains on some days.
It is understood there has also been a shortage of drivers at certain times.
A Nexus spokesman said: “The contract we have with DB includes bonus or penalty payments to incentivise the best possible performance, so significant penalties are imposed where the train operator is responsible for delays.
“Metro has suffered problems during 2013/14 and at this time £200,000 of additional performance penalties, over and above an original £300,000 budgeted for, are expected to be levied on DB Regio. Our passengers will sadly be well aware of the problems last year, though we’re pleased to say things have improved a great deal since then thanks to hard work by Nexus and DB Regio.”
Sharon Kelly, Director of Operations and Customer Services at DB Regio Tyne and Wear, said: “Metro did have some challenges in 2013 which impacted on passengers.
“We have penalty clauses in our contract with Nexus which were activated during the summer due to the service problems.
“These penalties are not passed on to customers via fares as these are set and collected by Nexus. 2014 has started more positively with a significant improvement in service delivery, and we continue to work tirelessly to build on this.”
Nexus, a public body, was forced to put the operating of the Metro out to tender in order to unlock £300million of funding for improvements to the system.
The agency submitted an in-house bid, but DB Regio was chosen as the preferred bidder against the criteria set down.
Nexus continues to own and manage the Metro system, including setting fares.
Improvements to the system include new ticket machines which take cards and bank notes, as well as station improvements and barriers.