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Tyne and Wear Metro

Volume 629: debated on Thursday 19 October 2017

11. When his Department plans to make a decision on the mechanism for the Tyne and Wear metro to receive funding to replace and renew its rolling stock. (901286)

The Department accepts the need to replace the Nexus fleet and is actively discussing the most appropriate method of funding this vital work with Nexus and the Treasury.

The metro system’s rail stock is more than 40 years old, and I am afraid to say that it is failing on a daily basis, causing delays for its 40 million users each year. On 17 July, nine of my right hon. and hon. Friends representing the Tyne and Wear area and I wrote to the Secretary of State about this issue. We again wrote to him on 12 September asking for at least an acknowledgement of our concerns. It may surprise you, Mr Speaker, to hear that we have not yet had an acknowledgment, never mind a reply. My patience is wearing a little thin on this. The people of Tyne and Wear deserve much better from this Government, even though they have no MPs in the area.

I am always disappointed when I hear that we do not achieve what we should in our correspondence. I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman has not had an acknowledgement; we will draft one immediately today. I assure him that I personally understand the importance of the metro system to the people of the north-east. We understand the need to replace these ageing carriages, and we are keen to ensure that we make a decision as soon as possible.

Transport spend in the north-east is only £220 per head, compared with £2,000 per head in London, and the effect of that can be felt every single day on the Tyne and Wear metro. Will the Minister commit that the investment will be publicly funded, not coming from some financially engineered private finance initiative scheme, so that the public benefits of a decent transport system can be publicly controlled?

We continue to work closely with the Treasury to make sure that we get the right funding package to deliver these carriages, which I know the network needs. In response to the hon. Lady’s concern about levels of investment in her region, I point out that we are finally completing the motorway to the north-east that Labour never built in 13 years.