The first train from the Tyne and Wear Metro's new fleet has been delivered to the North East, heralding a new era for the local network.

Arriving at the Metro's new purpose-built depot at Gosforth in the early hours of Tuesday (28 February), although the first new delivery was delayed on its journey from Switzerland after being covered by graffiti as soon as it arrived in England.

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Metro operating company Nexus said that the "pointless vandalism" would be removed.

The train made its journey through the Channel Tunnel before being covered in graffiti as it was towed by a locomotive through southern England. "This kind of pointless vandalism is sadly part of modern life," added the spokesperson for Nexus.

The new rolling stock is a bespoke design for the Metro, and has been assigned its own British Rail class number - 555. The train at Gosforth is the first of 46 that have been ordered from Swiss manufacturer Stadler in a £362m investment programme.

The first train, 555 003, will undergo testing on the Metro's network while more trains are delivered throughout the year. They're expected to enter service in the Autumn and replace the forty-three-year old rolling stock that's been in use since the Metro's launch in 1980.

Improvement work on platforms at 40 of the network's 60 stations in anticipation of the new trains was started in October 2020.

Fully air conditioned, the new stock has an open plan layout with increased accessibility and USB charging ports for passengers as well as increased energy efficiency.

Last month, manufacturer Stadler showed a special team of eight experienced Metro drivers how to operate the trains on a test track in the Czech Republic. Training drivers on the new fleet will be undertaken as tests on the new trains continue.

Craig Pearson, Metro Driver and Traincrew Specialist, said: “The technology that these new trains offer us are going to be transformative and are a world away from the old fleet.

The Northern Echo: Work on station platforms has been underway since October 2020 in anticipation of the new trains' delivery.Work on station platforms has been underway since October 2020 in anticipation of the new trains' delivery. (Image: Nexus)

“Everything’s at your fingertips in the new drivers’ cab. The layout is better and the computerised control systems are amazing. It’s a huge jump from analogue to digital technology.

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Managing Director of Nexus, Martin Kearney, said: “To see that train arriving at our Gosforth depot was a moment of history for the Tyne and Wear Metro. Everyone is excited to get the testing and driver training process underway, so that we can put the new train into service on the network. 

“The Stadler trains have all the latest modern technology. They’re a world away from our current fleet, and they promise to be transformative for customers and for our workforce. 

“Our customers, employees, specialist user groups and trade unions helped to design the new trains as part of a far-reaching consultation exercise that received 23,000 responses. We are getting a bespoke design from Stadler, with a sleek modern appearance inside and out. 

The Northern Echo: The new rolling stock has an open plan interior and can carry more than 600 passengers on each train.The new rolling stock has an open plan interior and can carry more than 600 passengers on each train. (Image: Nexus)

Chair of the North East Joint Transport Committee, Cllr Martin Gannon, said: “This is a monumental achievement and great news for public transport in the North East. 

“The arrival of the first new train will be welcome news for passengers, many of whom played a key role in the consultation process, helping to design the very trains that will take the Metro forward into the future. 

“In line with our region’s Transport Plan, the new trains will encourage even more people to make use of our Metro network for all types of journeys, including travel to work and education or for leisure purposes. I’m pleased to say this investment will hugely boost the accessibility of the network, with a sliding step at every door on the new trains which will help to make everyday travel so much easier for thousands of people with enhanced mobility needs and young families. 


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“Nexus is a public body working on behalf of local councils, and this project is another great example of how we successfully deliver major transport investment programmes in our region, to grow our economy and deliver on our carbon reduction targets.The North East can achieve great things when we work together. 

“This is just the start of this exciting programme and I look forward to seeing further trains rolling into the North East in the coming months.”