Hopes of massive new Tyne & Wear Metro bailout to avert £500,000-a-week losses once Government cash runs out

The Tyne & Wear Metro is in financial trouble. Credit: ITV News

Tyne & Wear Metro chiefs are hoping for a massive new bailout that will save the struggling network from £500,000-a-week losses.

The rail service has been given more than £16 million by the government so far to help it survive a massive drop in passenger numbers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But that money will run out in just a few days and there has been no confirmation so far of a further funding package to prop up the Metro beyond Tuesday, August 4.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service understands that a significant, longer-term deal is in the works, however, and awaiting sign off from Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

At the height of lockdown, the Metro was losing close to £1 million every week as passenger levels dropped by up to 95 per cent.

Metro ridership has now recovered to around a third of normal levels as travel restrictions have eased, but without government support the network would still suffer weekly losses of around £500,000.

While that shortfall could be covered for a short time by operator Nexus' reserves, an emergency budget would ultimately have to be passed that could mean major cuts to train services. 

The Department for Transport confirmed that it is reviewing the case for extra funding for the Metro and other light rail systems across the UK.

A spokesperson added that support was agreed but not approved before August 4 "Metro and other services Nexus provides will not be affected in the intervening period".