Councillors have welcomed a boost to Metro services in South Tyneside after it was revealed a new Nexus training centre will secure improved train times.
The £8.4 million Nexus training centre in South Shields will be used as a training base for more than 1,000 people who work on the Metro and external firms.
Its features include a mocked-up Metro station, 70-metre stretch of track for rail infrastructure training and a Metro driver training simulator, with works expected to finish in July 2019.
Nexus community relations officer, Claire Tulley, told the East Shields and Whitburn Community Area Forum, train times from South Shields would also improve due to them being stored at the centre overnight.
Service changes include the first morning train starting 42 minutes earlier on a weekday and a boost to evening services.
Cabinet member for independence and wellbeing, Coun Tracey Dixon, said centre was a “fantastic opportunity” for people in the area.
She added: “The community is going to benefit long-term with you actually housing the carriages there and people accessing trains earlier.”
The centre is being built on the existing Metro sidings between Mile End Road and Salem Street in South Shields and on the site of the town’s original railway station which closed when the Metro line was built in the early 1980s.
A maintenance depot dealing with minor repairs will be housed on the ground floor while the first floor will contain offices for staff and training suites.
A Nexus spokesman added: “There will be space at the new training centre to stable a small number of Metro trains and maintain them outside of the main fleet depot in Newcastle.
“This will allow Nexus to safely and securely stable Metro trains overnight in South Shields, allowing for an earlier start of services and later evening services to South Shields as the new Metro fleet is brought into service.
“At the moment the first train from South Shields on a weekday is at 5.42am, the new facility would allow for a Metro service to start there from 5am on weekdays.
“The last train to South Shields, which arrives at 11.56pm, would be getting in at 12.30am under these plans.”
Chris Binding , Local Democracy Reporting Service