Four contenders named for Tyne and Wear network

FOUR train operators have been shortlisted for the new privatised contract to operate trains and stations on the Tyne and Wear Metro light rail network.

But the move has been condemned by the Keep Metro Public campaign, which has enlisted the support of the RMT union.

Out of nine pre-qualifying bidders, DB Regio Tyne and Wear, MTR Corporation and Serco-NedRailways Metro will receive an invitation to negotiate and will be sent a detail-ed tender specification next month.

Passenger transport executive Nexus, the current owner and manager of the system,
is also shortlisted as an in-house bid.

The successful bidder will provide day-to-day delivery of Metro train services and stations, train maintenance and the modernisation of 90 Metrocars. The system is used by 40 million passengers a year.

Nexus and the Tyne and Wear Passenger Transport Authority last year secured a £300 million funding commitment from government to support the changeover, as well as a commitment to meet the operating costs of Metro between 2010 and 2019.

But RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “If operations are handed over to one of the three private bidders, we will see huge sums of public cash siphoned into private pockets as profits. Across the country, rail privateers are looking to cut staff and services to maintain profits, and that is wrong for Metro.”

A preferred bidder is due to be named in November, with final contracts being signed next January, ahead of the seven to nine years’ concession start date in April.

Nexus, which will let the concession, will continue to own all trains, set fares and specify the service. Also, it will continue to own and directly manage all Metro infrastructure, including overseeing enhancements to track and signalling.

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