Introducing the new trains is the biggest and most important project in the history of the Tyne and Wear Metro and we’re making great progress.
We were delighted to receive a further two new trains from Switzerland in December, marking off another major project milestone.
Our new fleet is a bespoke design for Metro by Stadler. Before entering customer service, around 22,000 standards and clauses must be complied with, 90,000 individual tests completed and 480 of our people given extensive training. All of this is to ensure that the new trains work safely and seamlessly with Metro’s 60 stations and 77km of track.
With the testing process well underway, we’ve identified that further testing of some of the systems on the new trains in very specific conditions is required, and we are working together with our partners at Stadler on this.
Identifying any issues that need to be ironed out prior to entry into customer service is really important and shows the value of our robust testing process. This unfortunately will impact the current delivery timescales but we won’t know the extent of this until the additional testing is concluded. We will still continue to make progress with the wider testing programme while this is happening.
We remain focused on getting the best possible performance from our current trains: Metro customer numbers have grown 13.5% in the last year and are close to returning to pre-pandemic levels. With this in mind, and the onset of Tyne Bridge refurbishment, we know Metro needs to provide a reliable service.
Stadler is working closely with suppliers to source spare parts for the ageing fleet and we have invested further in maintenance of the current trains, bringing in heaters adapted from the airline industry to protect them through the winter. This has helped improve fleet availability – the main cause of delay – since Christmas.
Construction of the new Gosforth depot is now complete with Stadler now having more sidings in use to better maintain, marshal and present trains each morning.
We have also carefully reviewed our timetables to reflect current performance and improve punctuality as much as we can. Research tells us that customers value a frequent service, so we are looking to prioritise frequency over punctuality, aiming to offer customers a regular service, even if trains are not running to timetable.
It is a challenging time and unfortunately our customers will experience busier trains and occasional longer wait times, especially at peak times. We will be advising customers to check in advance and plan ahead, allowing a little more time to complete their journeys.
The bespoke new trains are designed and shaped by customer feedback and, when introduced, will transform the customer experience in terms of comfort, quality and reliability as well as setting high standards of accessibility.
We thank everyone for their support, patience and understanding.