Metro quirk gone in sixty seconds

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THE mystery “Millfield minute”, which robs Metro passengers of one train an hour, will be fixed in a timetable rejig.

Transport chiefs have come up with a solution to the problem which sees one train an hour fly past passengers at busy Millfield Metro station.

Critics condemned the timetable oddity as a “myth” when transport executive Nexus restored the full service to South Hylton in 2009.

At the time Nexus claimed that having all the trains stop at Millfield would cause knock-on timetable headaches as far afield as Teesside.

Nexus’ director of customer services Tobyn Hughes said: “In 2009 we increased the number of Metro services to South Hylton to five per hour.

“This was a good thing, but we could only do it by having the shortest possible turn-round time at South Hylton and also one service skipping Millfield.

“Railways are just like airport flight paths.

“We share a busy line between Sunderland and Pelaw and we have to be on it at exactly the right time to fit with other trains and avoid longer journeys for everyone.

“Skipping Millfield once an hour was the best solution at the time, but understandably it confused some passengers and we were never happy with the arrangement.

“The good news is from now on every train will stop at Millfield, and every other station.”

The problems will be resolved by starting some trains earlier, making sure they can hit the Network Rail lines on time without causing problems for other services.

The changes will come into affect on Sunday, when Nexus’ revised timetable begins.

It is the only change on the Metro system this year.

Sunderland Conservatives’ transport spokesman Councillor Peter Wood praised the improvements – but criticised transport chiefs for not sorting the problem earlier.

“I’m delighted,” he said.

“I just don’t understand why it has taken such a long time to resolve and I don’t understand why it was an issue in the first place.”

Coun Wood, who is also a member of the Tyne and Wear Integrated Transport Authority, has previously condemned Nexus’s reason for the missing train as “rubbish”.

He claimed it was difficult to get trains running exactly on time, and believes natural fluctuation in journey times is probably more than a minute.

The St Michael’s councillor said Millfield was the closest Metro station to Sunderland Royal Hospital, where there have been calls for more people to use public transport to alleviate parking problems.

He said Millfield was “getting busier” with a lot of housing and shops, making it important for the area to have a full Metro service.

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