Peter Lazenby writes:
Local government transport bosses in the north-east are dumping the company that operates the Tyne and Wear Metro and taking the railway back into public ownership.
Rail union RMT hailed the decision yesterday as a “massive boost in the battle for public ownership.”
The metro is operated by German state-owned rail firm Deutsche Bahn on behalf of Nexus, the operating name of Tyne and Wear Passenger Transport Executive.
The executive is controlled by the North East Combined Authority, involving County Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Sunderland Councils.
Deutsche Bahn’s contract expires next year and Nexus managing director Tobyn Hughes said it was “not delivering the outcomes for passengers that either we or the operator want to see.”
The authority is to invest £400 million in new trains.
The service will run under public control from 2017 to 2019, after which the authority is expected to face government pressure to reprivatise it.
However, RMT general secretary Mick Cash said:
“Today’s announcement on the Tyne and Wear Metro is a massive boost in the battle for public ownership and comes after years of hard work and pressure from RMT members and officials across the north-east. This is their victory.
“RMT will now press for the initial two-year transition to be turned into a permanent arrangement for this essential public service.
“[This] announcement proves that the combination of a strong union and a relentless public campaign is unstoppable.”