Metro given green light for upgrade by coalition government
AN upgrade of the Tyne and Wear Metro has been approved by the coalition Government.
However, it was also revealed that the budget for the long-awaited modernisation project will remain “under review”.
The scheme is going ahead after the new Government yesterday completed a review of spending decisions, including the Metro upgrade, made by the previous Labour administration since January.
Nexus, which oversees public transport in Tyne and Wear, has fought for several years to secure funding cash to upgrade the 30-year-old system that carries more than 40 million passengers annually.
But the Department for Transport said the budget of up to £350m for the scheme would be kept under review.
A Nexus spokesman said the deal had always been subject to periodic review, with funding spread over 11 years and the group would work with the Government on that.
Catherine McKinnell, Labour MP for Newcastle North, welcomed the confirmation that the modernisation of the Metro would go ahead. “It provides an invaluable upgrade the major transport infrastructure in Tyne and Wear. It appears to be saved from the Treasury axe on the whole.”
But she added: “The comments that it will be subject to an ongoing review means that we will have to stay very vigilant in the region that the Treasury doesn’t seek to try and reduce support for our local transport infrastructure by the back door.”
Bernard Garner, director general of Nexus, said: “We are pleased that cross-party support for the Metro project has been maintained and the Government has acted quickly to show it recognises the benefits that Metro ‘all change’ modernisation will bring and avoid any period of uncertainty.”
A DfT spokesman said: “As a result of the Treasury announcement on spending commitments, the Tyne and Wear Metro project will proceed.
“However, the Secretary of State will review the overall budget of the scheme to ensure it delivers value for money for the taxpayer.”