Tobyn Hughes, Managing Director of Nexus, gave the following update on our programme to get new trains for Metro last month, at a meeting of the North East Joint Transport Committee (Tyne and Wear Sub Committee) on 19 September. We are posting it again following continued speculation about this process.
"Last Friday the Prime Minister called the Tyne and Wear Metro a ‘superb service’, and I certainly agree with him. Earlier the same day the Northern Powerhouse Minister referred to the government’s commitment to funding new rolling stock for the Metro, first announced by the then Chancellor of the Exchequer in November 2017 and reaffirmed many times since by a string of Ministers.
The certainty of government funding allowed us to trigger the procurement process just over a year ago. At Nexus we are hugely excited about this. It is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform the daily lives of the people who use the Metro.
Some people might have a preference for who they would like to see win the contract. Provided that they are not involved in the procurement process they are of course entitled to have an opinion and to express it.
Nexus however is absolutely not entitled to award contracts based on personal preferences or subjective judgements. That would be unfair to the companies who are all spending time and money competing for the contract in good faith, unfair to taxpayers who could end up spending more money than is necessary, and unfair to our passengers who deserve to travel on the best possible trains long into the future.
For good measure, because Nexus is a public body, it would be against the law. To ignore that fact would risk costly legal challenges and would add yet more time to the process of getting new Metro trains onto the system, already long overdue.
We are following a rigorous procurement process that is designed to make sure that we do buy the best possible trains.
We spent a lot of time consulting with Metro’s passengers to help design the specification, as well as seeking input from train manufacturers across the world to make sure we are asking for the ‘best of breed’. We also put a lot of effort into making sure that, whichever company wins the contract, they deliver other benefits for our area including engaging with local suppliers and looking after their staff.
Lots of people – including our passengers and our own staff – are of course impatient to see what the new trains will be like and who will build them.
But like it or not a procurement of this scale takes time. No decision has yet been made about who might be awarded the contract to design and build new trains. We expect to be able to publicly announce the name of the winning bidder early in the New Year."