Chancellor confirms £337million to replace Metro rolling stock
Chancellor Phillip Hammond made the announcement as part of his Budget speech today. The system has been plagued by an increasing number of break-downs in the last few years, with rolling stock now four decades old. The Government has confirmed it is investing £337 million of to overhaul the system, replacing the 40-year-old trains with a brand-new fleet. Nexus managing director Tobyn Hughes said: "The Government has recognised how vital Metro is to the economy and lives of people in North East England. "We made a strong case for funding which enjoyed very widespread and active support from the business community as well as our passengers. "This announcement allows us to begin the search for a train builder immediately, and see new Metrocars start to arrive little more than four years from now." But it will be a while yet before the replacement process is complete, with Nexus predicting the first new trains will not appear for another four years. It will issue a formal notice in January, inviting firms to tender for the contract, followed in April by a Pre-Qualification Questionnaire, enabling it to evaluate the suitability of the bidders in relation to their technical knowledge, experience, capability and financial and economic standing, before an invitation to negotiate to set out the terms of the tender process is issued in July. Tenders will be submitted and considered between June and September 2019 and a contract is expected to be issued in February 2020, with the first of the new rolling stock to be delivered late in 2021. Replacement of the entire fleet of 84 trains is expected to take another two to three years. People living across the North East will benefit from investments in housing, health, transport and technology, as the Chancellor today set out a Budget that will help build an economy fit for the future. Included in the first Autumn Budget, are investments to ensure economic growth is shared across all parts of the country, as the UK tackles its productivity challenge and bolsters its position as a world leader in high-tech industries. Other announcements for the North East in today's Budget include: *a North Tyne devolution deal including £600 million of extra funding. The new combined authority, which will be led by a directly-elected mayor, will choose how to spend this money on local priorities. An inclusive growth board will be set up to ensure all 815,000 people living and working in the area benefit from the economic growth this creates; *£59million for transport improvements to be determined by the Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen to connect people to jobs and make journeys quicker for everybody. Other towns and cities across the region will be able to bid into an £840million fund to support transport projects in their area; *Newcastle will become home to a Tech Hub, supporting businesses and skills in the area to thrive and prosper. This is part of a national expansion of Tech City, and the region will receive a share of £21 million to support this; *the government will provide £5 million to help enable the South Tees Development Corporation to take ownership of the SSI Redcar Steelworks site, and will work with local partners to prepare the site for development; *an extra £4 million boost to spending on flood defences including in Northumberland. This builds on the £26 million recently invested in the Morpeth flood alleviation scheme, which was completed last year and protects more than 1,000 local homes and businesses. The Chancellor set out his Budget against a backdrop of strong economic growth across the region. There are more people in work in the North East than ever before, with an employment rate at a record high (72.7%). In the last year, the region has had the fastest productivity growth (+11.8 ppt) and rise in in household gross income (+3.9 ppt). As new technologies create new opportunities and better jobs, the Chancellor is clear everyone must benefit. The Budget includes a boost for skills to give people living across the North East the training they need to succeed and get the highly-paid jobs of the future. Mr Hammond, said: "Today’s Budget sets out how we will build an economy fit for the future through driving innovation, creating better paid jobs and building the homes this country needs. "The investments I have announced today back the North East with a significant cash boost for transport improvements to connect people to jobs and make journeys quicker for everybody right across the region." Since 2015, over £273 million has been committed to individual military charities and other good causes. This Budget’s award of £36million continues the provision of banking fines to Armed Forces and Emergency Services charities and other related good causes, and takes the total committed since 2012 to £773 million. Local charities in the North East receiving this funding will include Single Homeless Action Initiative In Durham (SHAID), which will get £61,000 to support the provision of accommodation for Homeless Veterans in Durham.