See pictures of the new Metro fleet being tested in the Czech Republic as Tyne and Wear travel bosses admit replacement trains ‘cannot come fast enough’ after winter cold snap struggles
A Tyne and Wear Metro boss says the network’s new fleet “cannot come fast enough” after seeing its trains falter in December’s cold snap.
Passengers are finally expected to set foot on the Metro’s much-needed new carriages next year.
It had been hoped that the first of the trains coming off manufacturer Stadler’s production line in Switzerland would have arrived in the North East this month, but its arrival has been pushed back to early 2023.
The upgraded rolling stock is currently being put through its paces at a test track in the Czech Republic, but Metro operator Nexus’s managing director Martin Kearney is eager to get the £362 million new fleet up and running as quickly as possible after the current trains “really struggled” to function in freezing temperatures.
“The train is ready to bring over,” he told Tuesday’s (December 20) meeting of the North East Joint Transport Committee.
“The current date is January 27 and that is based on getting the correct plans in making its way through different parts of the railway to get to us.
“That is changing quite regularly and it is not set in stone, but that is what we are looking to.”
While the first train should be here in a little over a month’s time, passengers have even longer to wait before they see it pulling into stations.
After it arrives, the train will have to be tested here to make sure it functions properly on the Metro network and drivers will have to be trained to use it – meaning it will not actually enter service until autumn 2023.
The new fleet will boast features including air conditioning, wifi and phone charging points - and should also be 30% more energy efficient.
An image taken at the test facility shows the new trains running without an overhead line connection, using battery power instead.
The ability to switch to an on-board battery is a key upgrade on the current trains and should help avoid disruption to services caused bly overhead line failures.
It is hoped that all 46 of the new trains ordered will arrive by the end of 2024, though Nexus says this may now take until 2025.