Some positive news to report from the Tyne and Wear Metro where after a couple of consecutive four week periods where punctuality had dipped to 68% it is now on the rise again with the latest period showing the figure as 80%. It is still a disappointing figure for regular travellers – as well as being lower than the corresponding period in 2017/8 = but at least it does show that things are starting to get better again.
Between 11th November and 8th December 2018 68% of all trains were reported as arriving within 3 minutes later or within 30 seconds earlier (exactly the same percentage as the four weeks previously). The corresponding period in 2017 saw 79% of trains hitting this target. This period did include an overhead line fault in the Gosforth area on 13th November whilst 11 days later there was a high profile radio system failure which led to the whole network being suspended whilst this was rectified.
Then in the four weeks between 9th December 2018 and 5th January 2019 things improved with 80% of trains hitting the target (2017/8 saw 85% of trains described as on time in the relevant four weeks). This time there were two main incidents which affected services: 10th December with a train fault causing overhead line problems and then on 30th December there was lack of available trains preventing a full service from running.
For each major service disruption Nexus say what they are doing about it which is usually the normal blurb about how much investment is going into Metro over the next few years but for the lack of available trains they state they are training eight new drivers which doesn’t seem to help that particular problem!
There are currently three units which are out of service long-term: 4019, 4022 (which has been at Bristol Barton Hill Train Care Depot for quite some time) and 4075 whilst 4040 is also under long-term repair at South Gosforth Depot. This means that of there are at best 85 units available for service each day and reports suggest that 78 are needed for the full daily service which, when you consider normal maintenance, does show why there may be train shortages at times!