Tens of thousands of detailed tests are taking place to get the new Tyne and Wear Metro train fleet ready for customer service, in what is one of the most important projects in the network’s history.
Stadler, the Swiss train building company, is working with Metro operator, Nexus, on this latest phase of the £362 million programme, known as testing and commissioning, which covers nearly every single component on the trains.
It’s in the early hours of the morning the teams are out there carrying out scores of different tests in what is the biggest project on Metro since the system was built in the late 1970s.
A total of 90,000 individual tests are required, with checks on everything, from seats and windscreen wipers, to more big-ticket items like brakes, CCTV, doors, wheels, and power supply.
There are 19,000 hours of training time, with the first few trains completing 37,000km of running. There are 22,000 standards and clauses to comply with and 480 staff to train.
The testing process is to ensure that the new trains work safely and seamlessly with Metro’s 60 stations and 77km.
All of the on-board customer information systems need to be checked and be working correctly, along with the emergency settings and fail-safe systems.
Power consumption, ride quality, and performance reliability are all being scrutinised thoroughly.
The testing process has been ongoing since the first three Stadler trains arrived in North East England in March. This started with some basic functionality testing within the depot and first trains started to be tested on our Nexus network in May 2023. It involves the same level of detail that a big car manufacturer undertakes when bringing a new model to the market, Nexus said.
Interim Managing Director at Nexus, Cathy Massarella, said: “Testing is really detailed and it’s absolutely critical to get the new Stadler trains ready for customer service. We are leaving no stone unturned in what is probably the biggest and most important project since the Metro system was first built.”
“Our customers won’t see the new trains running around the network as the testing is currently being undertaken between midnight and the early hours when the network is closed. However, there will be testing in daylight hours later this year.
“Thousands of inspection criteria need to be met, and fault free running targets achieved before Nexus officially accepts the trains and we put the first one into service. All of the teams involved in testing are working tirelessly. It’s a historic project for Metro to bring a new fleet of trains into service and we are making sure we get everything right.”
The first five new trains will each need to complete 10,000km of fault free running before they are ready for handover.
The fleet will enter service in phases and the aim is to have all the new trains in service in 2025.
Image credit: Nexus