Metro passengers can look forward to a step change in travel over the next three years thanks to detailed modernisation plans unveiled by the system’s owner today.
Nexus, which owns and manages the Tyne and Wear Metro, is on the verge of securing a funding package from Government expected to be worth around £600 million in capital funding and operating subsidy to secure the 30-year-old light rail system’s future and modernise stations, trains and infrastructure.
It is also preparing to sign a deal for a concessionaire to operate stations and trains on its behalf which will provide improvements in customer service for Metro’s 40 million passengers.
The modernisation programme will be worth an estimated £2.5 billion pounds to the North East economy over the next decade and secure or create hundreds of jobs both in Metro and the engineering and construction sectors.
It provides Metro with long-term financial security for the first time in its history, letting Nexus plan the system’s future for development for decades ahead.
Nexus today gave details of its proposals for the capital work that will, subject to Government funding approval, be carried out between now and 2013, the first three years of the nine-year Metro: all change modernisation programme worth more than £300 million in total.
- Central station, used by 5 million passengers a year, rebuilt to a ‘Haymarket’ blueprint.
- Five new escalators for Monument, Metro’s busiest station.
- 11 suburban stations modernised.
- Four new lifts for Heworth and Four Lane Ends interchanges.
- One third of the 90-strong Metrocar fleet to be refurbished – the first phase of refurbishment of the whole fleet.
- 225 new ticket machines, taking notes, cards and coins, at all stations – and 13 stations to get ticket control barriers.
- ‘Smart’ ticket travel for passengers.
- 30km of track, track beds and embankments to be renewed – along with four major rail junctions on the system.
- 60,000 metres of new communication cabling laid.
- 34 bridges to be repaired and strengthened – plus major drainage work in the 162-year-old North Shields Tunnel.
In addition, Nexus has announced DB Regio (Tyne and Wear) Ltd as its Preferred Bidder for a concession to run trains and stations on its behalf for seven to nine years from 1 April 2010. This completes a comprehensive 15-month process that saw leading transport firms from around the world compete to work for Nexus as concessionaire.
Around 400 people who now work for Nexus on Metro duties including train driving and control, train maintenance and station operation will transfer to the employment of the concessionaire. Their conditions of employment, including pension rights for staff transferring and new starters, and negotiating terms are protected for the lifetime of the contract.
A further 270 people who work on Metro will remain with Nexus, in roles involved with managing the whole system including the operating concession, taking forward the modernisation programme and maintaining infrastructure including tracks, communications, power supply, station buildings and equipment.
Ken Mackay, Director of Rail and Infrastructure at Nexus, said: “Today’s announcement marks the final stage in a 15-month process involving some of the world’s leading transport firms, to choose the very best contractor to operate trains and stations on behalf of Nexus.
“Our preferred bidder, DB Regio (Tyne and Wear) Ltd is offering a very high standard of public service in both price and quality as we enter final negotiations to agree a contract.
“The preferred bidder is offering better customer service to our 40 million passengers, good value to the taxpayer and the best deal for staff. While Nexus will continue to set fares and service specifications, we will pay an agreed fee to the operating concessionaire based on its performance.
“The operating contractor will also drive our £15 million programme to completely refurbish all 90 Metrocars over the coming years.”
Bernard Garner, Director General of Nexus, said: “Choosing a preferred bidder takes us much closer to unlocking more than £300 million in Government funds to modernise Metro.
“The Metro: all change modernisation programme is worth £2.5 billion to the North
East economy, compared to letting the system decline and fail – because Metro is vital getting people to work and study and supporting city centres.
“When we have agreed a final contract with an operating concessionaire we will be able to go to Government not just to confirm capital funding, but also to confirm an equally significant operating subsidy over nine years.
“As a result of the work we have done Metro and the people who work on it now have greater financial security than at any time in its history, plus an exciting future through the all change modernisation programme.”