Tyne and Wear Metro and Tyne Tunnel travel set for price hike

The cost of travel across the region is increasing. Credit: NCJ Media/ITV Tyne Tees

People travelling through the region will see a price increase for tickets purchased for the Tyne and Wear Metro and the Tyne Tunnel.

The plans to raise the prices were approved during a meeting of the North East Joint Transport Committee on Thursday 18 January 2024.

Councillors backed plans for an average 3.4% Metro fare hike, which bosses say is needed to help the struggling rail network keep up with its running costs.

It comes after recently-released figures showed that the Metro recorded its worst ever performance in the weeks before Christmas.

Just 61% of trains had arrived on time between 12 November and 9 December - this had prompted calls from critics for any fare hike to be put on hold.

Under the increased ticket prices, the cost of a single journey will jump to a maximum of £4.50 on 1 April 2024.

Passengers who use the Pop pay as you go card to travel will be able to access substantially cheaper fares than those buying paper tickets. The cost of a day’s travel on a Pop card will be as much as £1.60 less than a traditional ticket.

While operator Nexus said the new Metro fares would be 3.4% higher than current rates on average, the scale of increases varies substantially between different tickets.

A two-zone day ticket, which is the Metro’s most purchased fare, will jump 7.7% from £5.20 to £5.60 – but an all-zone day ticket is frozen at £5.90.

Fares will be frozen for 16 to 21-year-olds with a Pop Blue smartcard, and for older and disabled passengers with a Metro Gold Card.

Nexus has said that switching from paper tickets to Pop Pay As You Go will give passengers bigger discounts on the cost of their travel. Credit: LDRS

Nexus customer services director Huw Lewis told the North East Joint Transport Committee meeting: “We have been open with the fact that we have challenges in terms of performance.

"But Nexus still has bills to pay, especially for things like high voltage power which is 75% more expensive than before the energy crisis.

“Although we are proposing a fare rise on many tickets, for the second year in a row it is below the rate of inflation. At 3.4% on average it is significantly below the national rail average and the level that the Government has set for national rail operators, 4.9%.”

North Tyneside deputy mayor Carl Johnson, who chairs the North East Joint Transport sub-committee, said that “nobody wants a fare rise” but that it was inevitable without any extra funding.

He said: “The sad reality is that if we want to still have a Metro service when the new trains arrive [the £362m new fleet due to start entering service this year] fare rises will have to be a part of that.”

Prices will also increase on the Shields Ferry with a single adult ticket going up from £2.30 to £2.50.

Drivers will also have to pay more to use the Tyne Tunnel from May, with the cost of a single trip through increasing by 9%.

There has been an increase of 62,000 journeys made through the tunnel compared to last year. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

The toll for cars will rise from £2.20 to £2.40 and the class three vehicle toll, for HGVs, LGVs, van or buses over 3.5 tonnes, will go from £4.40 to £4.80 on 1 May 1 2024.

Mr Johnson said: “This is a decision for this committee, but it is also in the contract [with tunnel operator TT2] that tolls should rise by this amount. If we don’t increase the tolls that means it would have to be funded from other budgets.

“Transport budgets right around the region are massively stretched at the moment, so there is no other place where that money can be found.”

A previous toll rise in 2023 was delayed due to concerns about the impact of imposing higher fees on residents during a cost of living crisis.

A report to the committee said that putting that increase off from February to May 2023 cost more than £1 million, and could not be repeated.

It warned: “Members may be concerned at an increase in the toll given cost pressures for customers elsewhere, however, to delay the proposed increase in line with RPI would significantly deplete the Tyne Tunnels reserves and thus threaten the long-term financial health of the budget.”

A 10% discount will still be applied for motorists who use a pre-paid Tyne Tunnel account, which is the large majority of users.

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