A new temporary Metro Depot in North Tyneside has welcomed its first train ahead of it becoming fully operational at the end of the month.
Nexus, the public body which owns and manages Metro, has successfully operated a test train into the new maintenance workshop, which is located at Howdon.
The former landfill site has been transformed into a new temporary home for Metro - and it’s now almost ready to open.
Howdon depot will be used for the cleaning and preparation of up to a quarter of the current Metro fleet while the main Metro depot at Gosforth in Newcastle is completely rebuilt at a cost of £70m.
Project Manager, Tabitha Callaghan, said: “I’m pleased to say that we successfully brought the first test train into the workshop at our new Howdon depot. It’s a hugely significant moment as we countdown to this new facility becoming operational.
“The test was to ensure that all of the new infrastructure is correctly set up, that the train fitted into the maintenance area, and that everything worked as it should.
“It all went very well and we are all set to welcome more trains at the end of November when we bring the depot into use.
“Howdon depot has taken just over a year to build and it was a genuine collaboration between Nexus and our principal contractors. Covid-19 threw up some challenges for us, however, we found some innovative ways to overcome these to finish the project safely.”
The development has been funded as part of the £362m Metro fleet replacement project.
The transition to the new Gosforth depot will take four years, making a separate base essential to ensure that Metro operations can continue.
A total of 11 new lines, totalling 1.5km, have gone in at Howdon, along with 13 new track junctions and 1,000 sleepers.
Acquiring money from the Transforming Cities Fund to deliver the Metro Flow project will also mean that this facility is likely to play an important role in future Metro operations.
Nexus secured Government grant funding of £337m towards the projected £362m cost of designing and building a new train fleet and depot. This and the ongoing maintenance of the fleet over 35 years makes the total investment about £700m.
Buckingham Group Contracting Ltd built the temporary Howdon Metro depot working in collaboration with Nexus.