Tyne & Wear Public

Transport Users Group


Blog (under construction)

By Kevin Alderson, Mar 9 2018 05:02PM

On Tuesday, the House of Commons considered the estimated spending of the Department for Transport.

I am concerned that poor planning is systemic in the allocation of transport funds, as the Government

has made a mockery of financial planning periods for the railways and road investment strategies. Processes that were designed to provide certainty have instead turned into chaos. It is concerning that passenger rail income for this year is £248.6 million less than expected due to a decline in revenues from a number of train franchises, including Thameslink, Southern and Greater Anglia, and the Treasury is expected to pay an additional £60 million to cover this shortfall. This fall in revenue also follows the Government’s multibillion pound bailout of Virgin Stagecoach on the East Coast franchise. I believe the Government must come clean as to how much this will cost. It is unacceptable that the public continues to have to bail out a broken franchise system.

On the roads network, the new road vehicle tax system is losing £107 million per year, rather than

bringing in the £10 million it promised. In addition, we have seen road investment projects cancelled,

22 projects delayed and 19 enhancements pushed back into the next control period. I am concerned that this is all evidence of the Government’s poor stewardship of public money. I believe we must have a publicly owned railway, buses under council control and a proper plan to serve our communities.

By Kevin Alderson, Jul 17 2016 12:41PM

A number of passengers have been injured on buses, mainly as a result of leaving their seats while the vehicle is still moving and not yet arrived at the stop.

Passengers who leave their seat and are injured in this manner are not necessarily covered by the bus company's insurance regulations. Passengers are expected to remain seated while the bus is in motion and the driver is also expected to wait until the passenger has alighted from the vehicle before moving off.

The common response is that: "drivers won't stop unless you get up and indicate your intention of leaving the vehicle". However, Arriva, and Go North East deny this and repeat the safety regulation as stated above. Stagecoach has not signed up to the safety regulations. We are waiting for them to clarify their position on the issue.

TWPTUG's advice is that passengers should remain seated until the bus stops and press the nearest bell to them, to indicate their wish to alight. If the driver fails to stop the vehicle, take the bus service number and time, and make a complaint. Also ask for the drivers name and licence number and if refused, record that.

By Kevin Alderson, Jan 14 2015 11:24PM


Recently, Tyne and Wear Public Transport Users Group (TWPTUG) has received an increase in the number of complaints from travellers who rely upon the Metro, about the increase in delays and disruption to the service across the entire network.

We have also seen the recent hike in fares. People must be very angry at the poor service they are getting for their hard earned money. However, at the heart of this issue is the need for reliability and every user, whether travelling to work, school, shops or to care, just cannot rely upon the service at present. Transport, like NHS, is a vital social service.

TWPTUG took these concerns to Nexus who agreed the situation was serious and shared our concerns about the delays travellers were experiencing. We began by discussing Monday 12th January failure of power supply to the system for a second time in a week. Nexus advised this was due to problems with the private company who hold the franchise to supply power to the system. Nexus agreed they need to hold the company to account and also, improve their recovery systems and speed of communication with the public, when there are serious delays.

So the problem here lies clearly with two areas:, the metro trains are too old and need replacing. We need to bring forward government investment required to replace them (with spending per person in London twenty four times North East). Secondly, we the passengers have to rely on NEXUS being enabled to ensure these companies deliver what they are contracted to do and what we the tax payers are paying for.

TWPTUG have concerns about the imbalance between the interests (profits) of the shareholders of these companies and the needs of the public who rely on the service; in this case, the Metro passenger. We would ask here which is coming first, the shareholders of DB Regio and the power company or the public who rely on the service. Nexus need to ensure that the travelling public are put first and the contract they have with these companies can demonstrate this.

Happily, we have seen a huge increase in the number of people using the Metro in recent years. This is a success story, if we are serious about tackling climate change, traffic congestion and air pollution. So it is vital that the service they receive is reliable, safe, comfortable and integrated well with other public transport. It is not that at present. All the trains are too old and need replacing (internal refurbishment has not affected mechanical side of trains).

We would urge passengers who read this to lobby their councillors and MPs to call for this investment as a matter of urgency.

By Kevin Alderson, Dec 6 2014 02:51PM

Lets Tackle this Pollution Paul Baker’sletter printed in Journal and News Guardian on 27th nov.

According to a recent report, ‘Public Health in England’ April 2014, it was estimated that approximately 500 people across Tyne & Wear die each year from illnesses where the particulates from diesel fumes was a causal factor in their contracting the particular disease. The main illnesses linked to air pollution are: heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and asthma. Other ailments identified to have a link with diesel pollution are: men’s sperm count is lowered and where pregnant mother’s are exposed to high levels of these pollutants, smaller babies can result.

Areas of high density of pollution have been identified in Newcastle, such as Swan Roundabout, Salters Rd, Gosforth , Shields Road ( Byker) and the Western By-Pass. According to Professor Margaret Bell from the ‘Transport Operations Research Group’ at the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne “unless the volume of cars is reduced and the congestion removed, pollution will not fall significantly”.

On a recent BBC television programme ‘Trust Me I’m A Doctor’ another key area was identified to be outside every school gate where parents’ using diesel fuelled vehicles either to drop their children off or collect them were creating high levels of air pollution for their own children and others. The programme makers also advised that the interiors of cars caught in slow moving traffic congestion and where drivers were breathing the fumes of the vehicle in front were also a serious risk. Our homes are not safe either, if they are situated next to or near a busy main road.

Why are all of us (including the drivers of diesel fuelled vehicles and their passengers) being subjected to such dangerous and unnecessary risks?

What is required here is a complete change of behaviour in how we travel around Tyne & Wear. We need investment in a public transport system which is integrated and meets people’s journey requirements in a way that is as near to the comfort and convenience of a privately owned car. We need regulation of diesel fuelled vehicles and where they are allowed to operate. This will take political will and leadership, something that is lacking at present. As I write I can tell your readers that the money currently awarded to ‘One North’ will mainly be targeted at roads and will result in more traffic (50% of which are diesel) and therefore more pollution.

This is a nationwide problem for across England, it is estimated that one in twenty deaths are from air pollution and that 50,000 people are dying as a result of diesel particulates and other gasses emitted from diesel fuelled lorries and cars. But we can start to do something here in Tyne & Wear, particularly now our councillors have voted for the introduction of a quality contract scheme and bus regulation. We can start by asking school governors to do something about the vehicles stopping at their gates and we can start by asking our politicians up for election shortly on what their plans are to safeguard our children and families health?


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