The Tyne and Wear Metro’s first new train was officially unveiled at a celebration event on Friday 14 March, marking the start of an exciting phase of the £362 million programme.
Nexus said the event was an opportunity to thank many different people who have helped make the new fleet a reality: Metro customers who have shaped the design, local politicians and business leaders who campaigned for funding, some of its many employees and trade union reps involved in the project, and local firms now supplying parts and technology to the new train.
Managing Director of Nexus, Martin Kearney, said: “We are at the beginning of an exciting new era for transport in North East England.
“The Stadler trains are going to be transformative, and we are really excited to get them into service for our customers.
“Stadler are a world class train manufacturer. What they are delivering are trains with the very latest modern technology, which is a massive leap from our current 43-year-old fleet.
“This is a new train whose design has been shaped by customers, employees, trade unions and specialist user groups. We believe this to have been the most far-reaching consultation yet staged into a new train design. Over 23,000 customer responses have helped to shape the design.
“The hard work starts now to get the trains ready to go into service. The new Metro trains will have to go through a phase of rigorous testing on our network, and all our drivers will need to undertake a period of train handling experience during the implementation phase of the project.
“We will then be able to put the new train into service so that all of our customers will get to feel the benefits, and share in this moment of history for the Tyne and Wear Metro.”
More 23,000 people have helped to design the new fleet in what was an award-winning consultation which Nexus believes to be the more far-reaching public consultations ever conducted into a new train fleet.
The new fleet will offer a comfortable, new, air conditioned, open plan layout, sleekly modelled interior, transforming the customer experience, while setting new standards for accessibility and energy efficiency.
The Class 555 Stadler train is a bespoke design for Metro. In the months ahead it will undergo rigorous testing to ensure that it interfaces correctly with signalling systems and other Metro infrastructure. Metro drivers will also start a process of training at the controls of the new train.
The new trains, which replace Metro current 43-year-old rolling stock up to 2025, will have modern features including linear seating, charging points, air conditioning and will deliver a step-change in accessibility.
Among the new features will be an automatic sliding step at every door to enable seamless boarding, making travel easier for Metro’s 50,000 wheelchair passengers as well as people with children’s buggies, luggage, or bicycles.
Image credit: Nexus