The North East Combined Authority’s lead member for transport issues, Councillor Nick Forbes has expressed dismay at the Department for Transport’s decision to reduce the level of investment in the Tyne and Wear Metro.
The Department had promised to invest £153m in the development of the Metro over the next five years – but this week wrote to Nexus to say that following the Spending Review this would be reduced to £120m.
Cllr Forbes, Leader of Newcastle City Council, said: “The government tells us that investment in transport infrastructure across the north is a top priority – but in light of a £33m cut in investment in the Metro we need to take a reality check.
“This reduced level of investment will mean that we will have to focus on the most urgent renewal projects to tracks, overhead lines and signals and cut back our ambitions to improve the Metro. A number of planned projects will now have to be shelved – including accessibility upgrades to some stations.
“Nexus has an excellent track record for delivering improvements to the network and had set out ambitious plans for the next five years. Whilst the latest announcement gives us some certainty about what funding to expect, the cut in investment has pulled the rug from under us.
“We do welcome the fact that the government has indicated that it recognises the need to continue to invest in the Metro beyond 2021, but we need some assurances that the scale of this investment will match our needs, and our plans for an essential new train fleet, and to expand the network
“The one bright spot on the horizon is the fact that the North East devolution deal will mean that in the future we will have much more control and certainty over our own finances here in the region – and be less dependent on decisions made in Whitehall. This will mean that we can set our own priorities and be confident that we will be able to deliver.”