Construction on new Metro depot begins ahead of £500million new trains project
Efforts to bring a £500million fleet of new Metro trains to the North East have taken a major step forward.
Construction has now begun on a depot which will be crucial to the delivery of the new and improved carriages, which it is hoped will make the rail system faster and more reliable.
The new fleet, expected to boast features such as air conditioning and WiFi, should start arriving in Tyne and Wear by the end of 2021 – with all of the network’s existing stock of decades-old trains replaced by 2024.
And while the main Metro maintenance depot in Gosforth is being completely rebuilt in preparation for the new trains, a new site in Howdon, North Tyneside, will be their temporary home.
Tobyn Hughes, managing director of Metro operator, Nexus, said: “We need a temporary Metro depot while we transition to permanent new maintenance facilities and the new Metro train fleet.
“Our main depot in Gosforth is going to be completely rebuilt and this work will happen in stages, so we must have a bespoke location to store and maintain our trains while that project is delivered over the next few years.
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“The site in North Tyneside is ideal for us, and it can also be used as the delivery point when the Metro new trains start arriving.”
The temporary depot, built on a former landfill site, should be ready to open by summer 2020 and will be used for the cleaning and preparation of up to ten Metro trains during the redevelopment of the Gosforth depot.
Spanish firm CAF, Swiss manufacturer Stadler, and Japanese company Hitachi – which built the new Azuma trains for the East Coast Main Line at its base in Newton Aycliffe – are in negotiation with Nexus, with the winning bidder expected to be revealed next January.
Metro bosses have stated that they want the new trains to feature air conditioning, Tube-style linear seating to increase capacity, wider doors and aisles, and digital features such as wifi connectivity and charging points.