The Tyne and Wear Metro has announced that they will be introducing a reduced frequency winter timetabled from Sunday 29th November as they catch up with driver training which had to be halted earlier this year during lockdown. Despite the reduction Nexus are confident the timetable will provide a good service frequency across the network.
Chris Carson, Metro Operations Director, said: “Reducing services is the last thing that we want to do, and it’s not a decision that we take lightly, but training has been so severely impacted by lockdown that we need to implement a winter timetable. I apologise in advance for the inconvenience this is going to cause to our customers. The reality is that train crew availability is lower than what we need it to be. The extra staff that we were due to bring in were unable to go through the required aptitude tests when national assessment centres were closed in March. Since the testing centres re-opened in August we do now have a record number of new drivers in training. These training schools got underway in September and they will take six months to complete. Customers will still have access to a good level of frequency across the network. On busier weekdays between 7am and 6pm the timetable will not differ that much from what we currently have in place, and in our busy central corridor through Newcastle and Gateshead there will be trains every seven minutes. Once we complete the current driver training schools we aim to revert back to a full timetable in the Spring.”
The new timetable will be introduced on Sunday 29th November and is scheduled to continue until March 2021. It will see the following service frequency:
Monday-Friday: 15-30 minute service 0500-0700. 15 minute service 0700-1800 (a train every 7 minutes between South Gosforth and Pelaw). 20 minute service 1800- end of service.
Saturday: 15-30 minute service 0500-0900. 24 minute service 0900-1800 (a train every 12 minutes between South Gosforth and Pelaw). 15-30 minute service 1800-end of service.
Sunday: 30 minute service all day (a train every 15 minutes South Gosforth to Pelaw)
Nexus have already announced that they are embarking on their biggest driver training programme and once this is concluded 30 new drivers should be ready for the network. A driver school was cancelled earlier in the year and as a result traincrew is predicted to be 10% below requirements in December 2020 and 13% below requirements in January 2021.