Tyne and Wear Metro operator dismisses Northumberland councillor's claim the network has 'too many stations'
and live on Freeview channel 276
Les Bowman, a Labour councillor in Northumberland’s Holywell ward, told a North East Joint Transport scrutiny panel on Thursday, October 26 that he would advise his Seaton Delaval residents against using the Metro.
After his complaint that the Metro is “too slow and has too many stations,” Nexus defended the network’s design, saying it was “incredibly important” that trains are accessible to as many people as possible, especially for those in some of the North East’s most deprived areas.
Rejecting the idea of offering express services to Newcastle city centre or the North Tyneside coast that would cut out other stops, Nexus customer services director Huw Lewis said that the Metro’s key purpose is that it “stops regularly and reaches a lot of communities”.
The Metro, which first opened in 1980, has 60 stations running through Newcastle, North Tyneside, Gateshead, South Tyneside and Sunderland.
The return of passenger trains to the Northumberland Line next year will see communities in south east Northumberland given a new link to the Metro network, as trains will stop at an interchange at Northumberland Park station.
But Cllr Bowman was dismissive of the Metro and asked Nexus officials to change their offering, saying: “I am advising residents locally not to use the Metro. I avoid the Metro as much as I can because it is too slow.
"My belief is that it is too slow and has too many stations. I know it is a mass transit system, but speed is part of it. Are you going to bring in an express service to the coast, for example?
“Are you going to do an express service to link up with the Northumberland Line, in order to bring a better facility to the people of Northumberland and give them better access to North Tyneside and Newcastle?”
In response, Mr Lewis said: “Metro is an urban transit system. It is designed to offer a service that stops regularly and reaches a lot of communities.”
He added: “Its job is to stop regularly and its job is incredibly important. It serves 30 million customers per year, we expect that to rise to 32 million this year.”
He also pointed out that passengers on the Northumberland Line may find it more convenient to use the Metro to travel to different parts of Tyneside, rather than going on the the Northern-operated carriages to Newcastle Central.
He said: “If you are getting a train from Seaton Delaval or Blyth to Newcastle, then you will end up in a particular area which is Central Station. If you work at the RVI or the university or the civic centre, you might be well advised to change at Northumberland Park and get a Metro train to Haymarket.”