The Northern Echo: 5th December 2009
A TRANSPORT union has criticised Tyne and Wear Metro bosses after they confirmed the door has been opened for the publicly-controlled network to be privatised.
Tynemouth metro station
Bob Crow, general secretary of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers, branded the decision by Nexus to hand over the running of the system to a subsidiary of German rail giant Deutsche Bahn from April next year as a “betrayal of the people of the North- East and electoral suicide in Labour’s heartland”.
Mr Crow said: “This is the first major privatisation under Gordon Brown’s leadership of the Labour Party.
“This is a disaster for Tyne and Wear which will be felt right across the region. We can expect this essential transport service to be bled dry in the dash for profits by the private company.”
Nexus confirmed the plans at a press conference at the Haymarket Metro station yesterday, but said it will continue to own Metro and will set fares and services directly.
Nexus hopes the plan will unlock more than £300m in capital funding towards modernisation projects, plus continuing operating subsidy over nine years.
The funding package from the Government is still to be agreed but Nexus expects it to be worth about £600m.
The Metro stop at Newcastle’s Central Station, which is used by five million people a year, will be rebuilt along the lines of Haymarket’s redevelopment.
Eleven stations between the city centre and South Gosforth, and between Byker and Tynemouth, will be refurbished as part of Metro: All Change.
New ticket machines and barriers to prevent fare-dodging will be put in at 13 of the busiest stations, Metro carriages will be refurbished and new track and cable laid.
Nexus said the investment, worth an estimated £2.5bn to the North-East economy over the next decade, would secure the future of the 30-year-old railway.
Bernard Garner, director general of Nexus, said: “We have achieved four things, subject to final approval of the Government.
“We have maintained local ownership and control of the Tyne and Wear Metro, we have met the conditions to secure more than £300m capital funding to modernise Metro, we have won significant improvements in service for passengers and, through investment, we will create scores of new jobs, while protecting the existing jobs, pensions and conditions of people who work on Metro now.”
Nexus reveal details £600million Metro overhaul
The Journal: Dec 5 2009
by Kim Carmichael,
Tynemouth metro station
PLANS have been unveiled for a controversial £600m overhaul of the Metro system.
Nexus, which yesterday announced it had agreed to allow a subsidiary of German company Deutsche Bahn to run the system, has now revealed details of what the multi-million pound budget will be spent on.
Central Station in Newcastle will be first in line for an upgrade, with passengers benefiting from a similar revamp to that at the city’s Haymarket station.
The 11 suburban stations from Tynemouth to Byker and South Gosforth to Newcastle city centre will also be improved.
Some 30 Metrocars will be refurbished in the next three years, with the rest of the 90-strong fleet to be upgraded in the longer term.
The entire system will benefit from new ticket machines, with 13 stations getting ticket control barriers.
Extensive refurbishment work to track, cabling and bridges will also take place.
Although concerns have been raised over the fact that DB Regio Tyne and Wear’s parent company is at the centre of a long-running safety row in Berlin, after a train derailment in May revealed that strict standards were not being met, Nexus yesterday sought to distance itself from the problems.
Nexus director general Bernard Garner said: “DB is a major international company with hundreds of subsidiaries.
“There is no connection between issues in Germany and operations in Tyne and Wear.
“We’ve made a major step forward in realising investment in the system. Metro now has greater financial security than at any time in its history and now we can plan long term for the future rather than from year to year as has been the case.
“We’re moving from the proud history of Metro and translating that into a better future, not only for Metro, but for transport in Tyne and Wear.”
Christoph Djazirian, bid director for DB Regio, said: “We have already proven our capability through our work with London Overground, using an approach of innovation, combined with tried and tested engineering and operational processes, which have made a sustained positive contribution to an improved customer experience.”
But union leaders and campaigners reacted have warned of the dangers they say the Metro system is now facing.
Kevin Flynn, secretary of Keep Metro Public, said: “Once driving profits becomes an issue, corners are cut and the shareholders come first and the staff and public second.”
Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT union said he was deeply unhappy with the plans. He said: “This is the first major privatisation under Gordon Brown’s leadership of the Labour Party.
“It is a betrayal of the people of the North East who overwhelmingly oppose this plan and is electoral suicide for Labour, smack bang in its heartland.
“This is a disaster for Tyne and Wear which will be felt right across the region. We can expect this essential transport service to be bled dry in the dash for profits by the private company.
“This decision is a kick in the teeth for the vast majority of local people who have supported the campaign against privatisation.”
RMT local union leader Stan Herschel said he was worried about the welfare of Metro staff.
He said: “We hope to work with DB for our members and the public but are warning now that any attempt to erode pay and conditions will be vigorously defended.
“Nexus are a bunch of pirates and should hang their heads in shame.”
German firm to run Metro service
BBC News: 4 December 2009
Kevin Flynn, of the Keep Metro Public group, said the move is a disaster
Germany's DB Regio has been named as the preferred bidder to run trains and stations on the Tyne and Wear Metro.
The state-owned firm beat off an in-house bid to operate services for up to nine years from April 2010.
Owner Nexus was told to hive off parts of the publicly-funded network in return for a £300m investment.
Union leaders criticised the decision, claiming one of the area's "crown jewels" had been sold off despite delivering high levels of performance.
Nexus will continue to own all trains, set fares and co-ordinate improvements to the Metro's 60 stations.
Bernard Garner, director general of Nexus, said: "This announcement marks the final stage in a comprehensive 15-month process.
"We have maintained local ownership and control of the Tyne and Wear Metro, we have met the conditions to secure more than £300m capital funding to modernise the Metro and through investment we will create scores of new jobs, while protecting the existing jobs.
"DB Regio (Tyne and Wear) Ltd is offering better customer service to our 40 million passengers a year, good value to the taxpayer and the best package of terms for staff."
Kevin Rowan, regional secretary of the Northern TUC said: "Trade Unions and the TUC are extremely disappointed and saddened by the decision.
"The fact is this has been a jewel in the crown of public services, with excellent delivery and performance, high customer satisfaction and a well-run service, all within the public sector.
"Both workers and the travelling public should be concerned about this decision, the government appear to have learnt nothing from botched and costly privatisations in the past.
"This is absolutely the wrong decision at absolutely the wrong time."
RMT BLASTS METRO PRIVATISATION PLANS
RMT: December 4 2009
TRANSPORT UNION RMT today blasted confirmation that the door has been opened for Tyne and Wear Metro to be privatised and handed over to a subsidiary of German rail giant Deutsche Bahn from April next year as a “betrayal of the people of the North East and electoral suicide in Labour’s heartland.”
NEXUS, the publicly controlled Metro operator, will confirm the plans at a press conference today for a takeover by preferred bidder, Deutsche Bahn subsidiary DB Regio, from the 1st of April 2010 but RMT and local campaigners have pledged to carry on the fight for public ownership of Tyne and Wear Metro.
Bob Crow, RMT General Secretary, said:
“This is the first major privatisation under Gordon Brown’s leadership of the Labour Party. It is a betrayal of the people of the North East who overwhelmingly oppose this plan and is electoral suicide for Labour bang, smack in its heartland.
“This is a disaster for Tyne and Wear which will be felt right across the Region. We can expect this essential transport service to be bled dry in the dash for profits by the private company.
“This decision is a kick in the teeth for the vast majority of local people who have supported the campaign against privatisation.
“RMT will continue to fight for public ownership of the Metro in the interests of our members who operate the service and the people of Tyne and Wear who use it. “