Nexus reveals reasons for Metro delays and pledges solutions soon
Written by Jack Wallace-Hunter on 29th November 2022
Falling leaves and ageing trains are being blamed for delays to Metro services but solutions are on the way, says service operator Nexus.
“Low rail adhesion” due to the change in seasons and a 43 year-old train fleet have been identified as reasons for a rise in delays on Metro services.
But despite the on-going disruptions, Nexus says a fleet of brand new trains is on the way to ease the problems for commuters.
The preferred choice of transport for many in Tyne and Wear has been the Metro that has seen us to work and school since 1980.
The Metro has seen recent damage to overhead wires between Park Lane and South Hylton due to flooding which has seen services suspended into the new year.
This has caused Nexus to run a delayed 24 minute per train service on the South Hylton to Airport Line instead of the usual 15 minutes.
A poll conducted on Instagram has shown that 88% of participants have noticed more delays on the Metro recently.
One participant said: “The 24 minute service that started yesterday is more like a 45 minute service in delays.”
Another participant said: “Metro cancellations have meant I couldn’t get into uni and have left me in a random station.”
According to the @My_Metro Twitter feed, in the two weeks between November 8 and 22, the Metro has been delayed 40 times and 27 of those occasions have been because of a service being withdrawn or faults as of writing this.
In its own performance reports, the Metro has been on time 71% of the time from October 16 to November 12.
This has dropped from 84% between September 18 to October 18 and 85% in the period before that.
A Nexus spokesperson said: “Metro performance is affected across the autumn months by low rail adhesion. This is what largely accounts for the drop in punctuality and we appreciate that customers get frustrated.
“We invest every year in treating the rails with a specialist traction gel to minimise the effects of wheel slippage. We have seen a slight improvement compared to 2021.
“Leaf fall season is a challenge for the whole rail industry and Metro is not alone in trying to deal with it.
“We also have the challenge of a 43 year-old train fleet, which is an increasing maintenance burden.”
But not all is lost, as the Metro is undergoing a massive investment in infrastructure with its new fleet, the electrification of the South Shields line and the proposed new Washington line all upcoming in the years ahead.
The fleet mentioned is set to be fully replaced by new trains by 2024/25, costing Nexus a cool £362m.
📸 One of the new Stadler Metro trains, photographed on the test track at Arth Goldau in Switzerland. The first of the 46 new trains we have on order is scheduled to arrive here in January. #MetroFutures #NewTrains pic.twitter.com/7cuyRKtxaW
— Tyne and Wear Metro (@My_Metro) November 28, 2022
The Nexus spokesperson added: “The new Stadler trains are fitted with a device that deploys sand onto the rail head at the touch of a button, helping to reduce low rail adhesion in the autumn months.
“The trains will also have an advanced traction control system. The onboard computer is able to read the condition of the rail head and make the necessary adjustments to prevent wheel slips when the driver puts on the power to pull away or brakes to stop at a station.”