Tyne and Wear Metro: Countdown to Christmas as network prepares for December delivery of first new trains built by Swiss firm Stadler
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Transport bosses have confirmed that the first of its long-awaited new fleet is on schedule to be delivered in early December.
However, passengers will have to wait until next autumn before they actually set foot on the modern carriages.
The new trains, which are being built in Switzerland by manufacturing giant Stadler, will be a substantial upgrade on the Metro’s decades-old existing stock.
They will boast 21st Century features such as air conditioning, wifi, and phone charging points.
The new rolling stock is also expected to be 30% more energy efficient.
Stadler has finished building two of the 46 new trains – including four which were a late addition to the original order – so far and one is currently in the Czech Republic for testing, before it makes its way across Europe to reach the UK.
The new trains are due to be delivered gradually up to the end of 2024 and will replace the current models one at a time.
And while the first one is due to hit the tracks of the Metro network for the first time next month, when it will be towed to the depot in Gosforth, passengers will have to wait a while before they see it pulling into their station.
Metro operator Nexus says that it should now enter regular service in autumn 2023, a few months later than had originally been planned, with testing and driver training scheduled to take place in Tyne and Wear next spring and summer.
Nexus also admitted that there are “significant risks and challenges” to the entire fleet making it here by the end of 2024, given the major disruption to global supply chains caused by the coronavirus pandemic and the war in Ukraine.
A Nexus spokesperson said: “We are really excited to say that our first new Class 555 Metro train will arrive in North East England in December 2022.
"This will be the first of the 46 new units we have ordered from Stadler.
“Each new Metro train will be delivered by rail.
"There is a detailed plan in place for the units to be hauled by rail from the Stadler plant in Switzerland, across mainland Europe, and then into Britain via the Channel Tunnel.
“The train will then be moved by rail again, northwards through the UK.
"When it arrives on our infrastructure it will be then towed to Gosforth depot by a current Metrocar.
“Each new train will then go through a process of rigorous testing and commissioning on Metro’s infrastructure before it enters passenger service.
"Two new units are going to a specialist test ring at Velim in the Czech Republic for further testing.
“Some of our Metro drivers will be going out to Velim in groups to take part in this part of the process, giving them the opportunity to drive the new Metro trains for the first time.
"This will enable them to work with Stadler on the testing and commissioning of the new trains when they arrive on our infrastructure.”