Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Business Bosses Join Forces in Call for Metro Funding; LEADERS CREATE AN ECONOMIC CASE FOR RENEWAL

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Business Bosses Join Forces in Call for Metro Funding; LEADERS CREATE AN ECONOMIC CASE FOR RENEWAL

Article excerpt

Byline: GRAEME WHITFIELD Business editor graeme.whitfield@ncjmedia.co.uk @Graemewhitfield

BUSINESS leaders in the North East have urged the government to fund a new fleet of trains for the Tyne and Wear Metro.

The North East England Chamber of Commerce (NEECC), the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) have backed a campaign to persuade ministers to make an early decision on funding new Metro trains.

Discussions with the government on a PS400m new fleet of trains are ongoing, but delays linked to the ageing Metros have become a growing source of frustration to both commuters and employers around the region.

The fleet dates back to the early 1980s and they are now some of the worst-performing vehicles of their kind.

Research in the region suggests that the PS400m cost of a replacement fleet would be re-paid three times over in benefits to the region's economy by supporting growth and reducing congestion.

The business support for the Metro case raises the pressure on ministers to agree the package, coming a few weeks after a major row over the downgrading of rail projects in the North just days before a huge improvement scheme was agreed in London.

James Ramsbotham, chief executive of the NEECC, said: "Our members are keenly aware what an asset the Tyne and Wear Metro is for North East England, getting people to work and training, reducing congestion and supporting thousands of local businesses. "The Metro is an essential part of our region's economic future and there is a very strong case for a new train fleet. We now need government to step up with the funding to deliver it."

CBI regional director Sarah Glendinning said: "The Tyne and Wear Metro is a vital piece of our transport infrastructure crucial in connecting businesses to their customers and a greater talent pool. …

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