A new train depot for the Tyne and Wear Metro is close to completion.
Nexus, the public body which owns and manages Metro, is building the facility at Howdon in North Tyneside. It is set to officially open this summer.
The former landfill site has been transformed. New tracks and overhead lines are in place and the new maintenance shed has been built and fitted out along with new facilities for staff. The high voltage power supply is set to be turned on this weekend.
Howdon will be used for the cleaning and preparation of up to a quarter of the Metro fleet while the main Metro depot at Gosforth in Newcastle is completely rebuilt, with that £70m project set to begin this summer.
The development has been funded as part of the £362m Metro fleet replacement project.
Project Manager, Tabitha Callaghan, said: “We are now close to the completion of the Howdon Metro depot.
“The new tracks, the overhead lines and the new building itself are all just about ready to welcome trains.
“The site will be vital for the future of Metro because there won’t be enough space for all of the trains when work starts on the main depot rebuilding project at Gosforth.
“Howdon gives us the capacity to stable up to one quarter of the Metro train fleet there and carry out light maintenance work at that location.
“There are new facilities for Metro drivers and maintenance staff who in the future will need to book on for duty at Howdon.”
The transition to the new main Metro depot at Gosforth will take five years, making a separate base essential to ensure that Metro operations can continue.
Having acquired money from the Transforming Cities Fund to deliver the Metro Flow project also means that this facility is likely to play an important role beyond this time.
John Fenwick, Director of Finance and Resources at Nexus, said: “The Metro Flow project will require another four trains on top of the 42 we have already placed on order with Stadler Rail. This fantastic new depot facility in North Tyneside will provide us with additional maintenance flexibility well into the future.”
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 budget about £500m.
Buckingham Group Contracting Ltd is building the temporary Metro depot on behalf of Nexus.