Metro gets state-of-the-art new wheel lathe as part of £70m depot rebuild

The ew wheel lathe
12 April 2022

Precision technology that will transform how the Tyne and Wear Metro’s new train fleet is prepared for service has been successfully installed.

The new automatic wheel lathe is a labour-saving tool that heralds a new era of more efficient Metro train maintenance. 

Stadler, the Swiss firm which is building the new trains on behalf of Metro’s operator Nexus, has installed the lathe at a purpose-built facility at Gosforth Metro depot as part of its ongoing £70m rebuild.

The first of 46 new Metro trains is set to arrive at the end of this year. 

The wheel lathe is capable of faster and more precision repairs to a train’s worn wheels at the touch of a button. 

An underfloor device, which is housed in its own special train care unit, machines the wheelsets when the trains simply driver over the top.

Head of Fleet and Depot Replacement at Nexus, Michael Richardson, said: “The new wheel lathe is an exciting part of the Metro fleet replacement project. There is no doubt that it marks a new era for maintenance when it gets brought into use on the new Metro fleet. 

“Stadler are making great progress with our new £70m depot and the investment in the most advanced maintenance technology is something we are all really looking forward to seeing.

"The new wheel lathe will transform how the wheels on the new trains are looked after. It will mean more effective and more efficient repairs, and all at the touch of a button. 

“We’ll get to see this amazing piece of technology in action after the new train fleet has started to be delivered at the end of the year.” 

The wear and tear of daily train operations creates what are known as flat spots on the wheels. It’s something which affects trains right across the world. 

A lathe is used to reprofile each wheel with pin-point accuracy so that they are perfectly rounded again – which means a smoother ride for customers.

The lathe at the current Metro depot – which is will soon be replaced – requires the trains to lifted up so that the wheel can be machined to remove the flat spots.

That process is more labour intensive and takes longer to complete. 

But the new wheel lathe, which is built into the floor, will eradicate this problem once the new Metro fleet and new depot are in operation.

The new lathe works by first measuring the size of each wheel and the amount of metal that needs to be cut away is then calculated.

The machine then gets to work reprofiling each wheel. The offcuts, which are known as swarf, are recycled. 
Once the cutting is done the lathe measures the wheels again to check them and then the train can be put back into service.

Paul Patrick, Engineering Director for Stadler Rail Service UK, said: “The installation of this piece of equipment is another step in the process to build a new, state-of-the-art depot, which has been designed to ensure maximum availability and reliability of the fleet for decades to come. The new wheel lathe points to Stadler’s commitment to innovation and technology, with the ultimate goal of providing an excellent service for passengers.”

Stadler, the Swiss train builder, are supplying Nexus with 46 new trains for Metro, along with a new £70m maintenance depot. The first trains are set to enter customer service from 2023.

The new Metro trains will cut energy and include modern features, such as charging points and air-conditioning. An automatic sliding step at every door of the new trains will dramatically improve accessibility, making travel easier for Metro’s 50,000 wheelchair passengers as well as people with pushchairs, luggage or bicycles.

Find out more about the new Tyne and Wear Metro fleet at www.nexus.org.uk/newmetrotrains 
 

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