Metro fleet apprentices met the Prime Minister Boris Johnson today, in the same week they saw for the first time the £362m new trains they will be working on as they build their careers.
The five young engineers were invited to the University of Sunderland as members of the Cabinet met in the city.
Nexus, which owns Metro, revealed the final design for its new trains to be built by Swiss firm Stadler using suppliers from across North East England and the UK.
Metro’s fleet engineering team will work for Stadler in future, with the company employing around 100 people at a new £70m state-of-the-art maintenance facility in Newcastle.
The Government has backed Nexus with a £337m grant to support the total cost of the programme. The new trains will transform the journey experience for Metro’s 36 million passengers a year while cutting energy use by 30%.
Tobyn Hughes, Managing Director of Transport North East and head of Nexus, said: “Metro’s fleet apprentices represent an engineering team looking forward to a bright future as we invest in new trains.
“Nexus, and our chosen manufacturer Stadler, will be investing in the long-term future not just of Metro but the people who make it happen every day for our 36 million passengers.
“It has been an historic week as we revealed the designs for our £362m new trains, so it seems fitting some of Metro’s youngest engineers should come to the forefront at the start of their future careers.”
Stadler, currently delivering new trains for Glasgow, Liverpool and in East Anglia and Wales, was chosen by Nexus after an 18-month global search for the best manufacturing partner for 42 new trains to be delivered up to 2024.
The company will work with more than 30 new supply chain partners in the UK advanced manufacturing, technology and construction sectors, half of them in North East England, creating and securing hundreds of skilled jobs.
Stadler will also build and run a £70m new maintenance facility at Metro’s current depot site in South Gosforth, Newcastle, as part of the deal, creating scores more jobs in construction and employing around 100 people directly.
The new trains, based on the ideas and suggestions of more than 3,000 passengers, will cut Metro’s high voltage power consumption by 30% while providing 15 times better reliability than the current fleet.
Passengers will benefit from modern features including wifi, charging points, air conditioning and greater accessibility, including an automatic sliding step at every door of the new trains.
Nexus has entered into a £300m contract with Stadler to build new trains and a depot as part of a £362m investment, which also includes construction led by Nexus of a satellite depot at Howdon, North Tyneside, and wider project costs and contingencies.
The initial order of 42 trains may be increased to 46 if Nexus plans to increase the frequency of Metro through the Flow Project, win Government funding.
The total value of the partnership between Nexus and Stadler, which will include decommissioning of the existing Metro fleet, could rise to £700m over 35 years, through a contract to maintain the new trains for up to 35 years depending on performance. The Department for Transport will also provide revenue support to help meet the maintenance costs of the new trains.