Councillors call for more trains to help cope with 'Metro failures'

Liberal Democrat Campaigner Martin Haswell
Liberal Democrat Campaigner Martin Haswell

Liberal Democrats on Wearside are calling for an increase in the number of Northern Rail services between Sunderland and Newcastle in the morning and evening rush hours to cope with repeated failures on the Tyne and Wear Metro.

On Monday four trains were withdrawn from the morning rush hour services on the Metro due to failed trains, leaving commuters stranded in the snow and facing lengthy delays.

Last month's Budget announcement by Chancellor Phillip Hammond contained funding for a new fleet of Metro trains - but they aren't expected to be ready until 2021.

Sunderland's Liberal Democrat group is now asking for more Northern Rail services to be introduced at peak times to help commuters between Sunderland and Newcastle city centres.

They are also asking if Northern Rail trains can stop at Metro stations on occasions when there are delays and cancellations on the Metro.

Liberal Democrat campaigner for Pallion and Ford Martin Haswell said: "The existing Metro carriages have been running since 1980 and are already failing regularly - this is only going to increase in the run up to the new trains coming into service in 2021.

"In the meantime commuters between Sunderland and Newcastle just can't put up with repeated failing trains and lengthy delays - especially given the amount of money people pay for season tickets.

"It is time that Nexus and the Department for Transport knocked some heads together and forced Northern Rail to run more than three services between Sunderland and Newcastle in the morning peak to help commuters.

"This would also offer an alternative when the Metros are cancelled, which is more often than it should be.

"If this can't be done, then when Metro failures occur the least they could do is arrange for Northern trains to stop at stations like St Peters, Seaburn and East Boldon - just like they stop at St Peters on match days."

A Nexus spokesman said: “We provide five Metro trains per hour through Sunderland throughout the day and four per hour at night, as well as funding hourly Northern trains between the city and Newcastle.

“The two operators have similar longer-term levels of punctuality and reliability over the line, and both were affected by the severe cold on Monday morning, when trains were delayed or cancelled across the country.

“We are always reviewing the way we plan and provide services including the balance between Metro and Northern trains on what is a very busy railway with limited paths taken by a number of freight and passenger operators.”