A UK construction firm has been commissioned to build a new depot for the Tyne and Wear Metro.

The Swiss train builder Stadler has appointed VolkerFitzpatrick to build the new facility at Gosforth, to accommodate the new state-of-the-art trains, set to enter passenger service from 2023.

The new fleet, comprising 46 Metro trains, is being manufactured and delivered by Stadler, who will maintain them for 35 years. It has pledged to use local suppliers, engage with local businesses and educational establishments, and invest in the new workforce, set to transfer to its business later this year.

The new purpose-built depot represents an investment of £70 million as part of the £362m fleet replacement programme led by Nexus, the public body which runs the Tyne and Wear Metro.

With inspection roads and pits, cranes, jacks, test facilities, automatic train-checking equipment and a wheel-lathe, the 12-acre site close to Regent Centre station will also feature a wash-plant to clean train exteriors and other dedicated areas for both daily and periodic deep-cleaning.

The outside area will be adapted to optimise train movements, while keeping noise to a minimum for the benefit of local residents.

The project will involve the safe demolition of the old depot, open since 1923, clearing the site, followed by building the new depot.

Work is scheduled to begin later in the year, with most of the building work set to be completed by 2025. The planning has been configured to enable the legacy fleet to continue successfully operating from the depot, while the construction work takes place.

Robert Baxter, managing director at Stadler Rail Service UK, said: “The appointment of VolkerFitzpatrick to build a new Gosforth depot is a highly significant milestone for the Nexus project, heralding the start of this exciting project in the north east, which will see the transformation of rail travel in the region.

“Stadler has pledged to support the regional economy and involve as many Tyne and Wear-based companies in the project as possible. We are keen to use local suppliers for materials and services required for the depot re-build, the manufacturing of the new trains and the ongoing service and maintenance of the trains on the patch.”

Councillor Martin Gannon, Gateshead Council leader and chair of the North East Joint Transport Committee, said: “The new state-of-the-art depot, which has been designed by Newcastle-based Ryder Architecture, will be environmentally friendly and we look forward to seeing it take shape over the next few years.”

Paul Lilley, VolkerFitzpatrick’s operations director said: “We are delighted to have been appointed by Stadler to design and develop this new £70m facility.

“As a leading constructor of rail depots, we have extensive experience of managing such projects and look forward to helping Nexus further enhance their network and create a state-of-the-art facility in readiness for their fleet of METRO trains being introduced in 2024.”