The Government today confirmed multi-million-pound funding for the Metro system – with potential for building new trains in the North East.
In his autumn Budget, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced “the replacement of the 40-year-old rolling stock on the Tyne and Wear Metro at a total investment of £337million”.
Coun Nick Forbes, leader of Newcastle City Council and chairman of the regional transport authority, was quick to tweet his response to the announcement, saying he was “delighted” to have “won the battle against a costly PFI scheme”.
A spokesman for Nexus described the pitfalls of a Private Finance Initiative scheme further: likening it to buying a car on “the never-never”, he estimated that the taxpaying public would have been repaying the loan for the trains for over 20 years.
He also estimated that a PFI scheme could have taken an extra 18 months to implement, meaning no new trains would have been in service until 2023.
Although today’s figure is noticeably less than the widely reported Nexus bid for £362-400million in government funding, the spokesman confirmed it will fund 84 new trains and a purpose-built depot at the Metro system’s overnight train depot at South Gosforth, in Newcastle.
A key next step in the process of replacing the ageing Metro fleet will be in January 2018, when Nexus formally invite companies to bid for the contract to supply the new trains. When asked, the spokesman could not rule out a “big local name”, like Hitachi at County Durham, securing the deal.
It is estimated that it will take two years for the new fleet to be delivered.