Hitachi in the running to build the new Tyne and Wear Metro fleet
Three firms are in the running to design and build a new multi-million pound fleet of Metro trains - and one of the finalists is based in the North East.
Nexus, the owner and manager of the Tyne and Wear Metro, announced the final three firms on yesterday – with County Durham-based Hitachi in the running alongside Spanish firm CAF and Stadler, a rail construction company headquartered in Switzerland.
The three bidders are vying to be chosen to design, build and maintain a new fleet of more than 40 trains as part of huge project in the North East region.
CAF, Hitachi Rail Ltd and Stadler will make their final offers for the project in the summer, with the winner set to be announced in January 2020.
Nexus has secured Government grant funding of £337million towards the projected £362million cost of designing and building a new fleet of trains and a new train maintenance depot in Gosforth, Newcastle.
It is expected that the new trains will begin to arrive in late 2021. The existing Metro fleet will then start to be phased out.
The successful bidder will also be responsible for maintaining the current fleet of trains to ensure there is a smooth transition between the old and new fleet between 2022 and 2024.
Tobyn Hughes, managing director of Nexus, said: “Each firm has a proven track record of building trains for railway systems throughout the world.
“We have carefully evaluated the bids and will now begin the final stage of the process where bids will be refined.
“Bidders will then come back with best and final offers and we will sit down and pick a preferred bidder.
“The winner will then start the task of designing and building 42 new trains, which will transform the passenger experience of the Metro system.”
Thousands of Metro passengers were consulted on the project in 2016 and 2017.
Nexus wants to see trains which improve passenger flow and dwell times at stations through improved seating layouts, wider doors and stand-back areas, wide aisles, and a layout to encourage flow of passengers through the vehicle.