|A refurbished Metro train at Kingston park in January 2014|
The company runs trains on behalf of Nexus, who set strict performance targets when they handed over day to day control. But after a less than impressive run last year DB Regio has been told it is not getting the full payment.
Nexus has said it will hold back some £500,000 from contractual payments as a penalty for not keeping trains on target.
Over the last year many Metro users have hit out at delays, though some of these have been the fault of work to upgrade the line for which DB Regio is not responsible.
Papers put to council transport chiefs overseeing Metro owner Nexus show a officials expected to be withholding around £300,000, but DB Regio surprised everyone with an even worse than expected performance.
The failings are thought to be as a result of DB not running enough trains some days, leaving the service struggling to cope with demand.
Greg Stone, a Liberal Democrat on the transport panel, said: “It has been clear over recent months that Metro performance has been below par and regular passengers have noticed this.
“Some of the problems can be attributed to the depleted Metro fleet during the refurbishment programme leading to a reduction in service. This has triggered penalty clauses in the DB Regio contract and transport authority members want to keep an eye on how well the situation is being addressed. The system is currently doing well in terms of farebox income, and a relaunch campaign to promote the advantages of using the Metro is planned.”
A Nexus spokesman said: “The contract we have with DB includes bonus or penalty payments to incentivise the best possible performance, so significant penalties are imposed where the train operator is responsible for delays.
“Metro has suffered problems during 2013/14 and at this time £200,000 of additional performance penalties, over and above an original £300,000 budgeted for, are expected to be levied on DB Regio. Our passengers will sadly be well aware of the problems last year, though we’re pleased to say things have improved a great deal since then thanks to hard work by Nexus and DB Regio.”
Sharon Kelly, Director of Operations and Customer Services at DB Regio Tyne and Wear, said: “Metro did have some challenges in 2013 which impacted on passengers. We have penalty clauses in our contract with Nexus which were activated during the summer due to the service problems.
“These penalties are not passed on to customers via fares as these are set and collected by Nexus. 2014 has started more positively with a significant improvement in service delivery, and we continue to work tirelessly to build on this.”