The new Metro trains have proved that they can take strain on a series of traction power tests over the network’s curves and gradients.
Stadler’s Class 555 trains were put through this latest round of testing to evaluate their horsepower as part of the countdown to get the first new train ready for service next year.
There was particular focus on the curved sections of Metro track at Manors and Tynemouth, and on a gradient in the underground section between Haymarket and Jesmond.
It was an examination of the new train’s ability to tow one of the old trains. This is vital given that the transition to the new fleet will see both the current and the new trains in service at the same time.
The tests had gone well and were part of the 90,000 different checks being undertaken to get the first new train ready for customers.
Head of Fleet and Depot Replacement for Nexus, Michael Richardson, said: “Our rigorous testing programme continues to go well, and one of the most recent runs saw a focus on the new train’s traction power.
“We had to check that the new train was capable of hauling one of the old ones, especially in areas of the Metro network where there are curves and gradients. This is essential given that the fleet transition period will see both new and old trains in service on the network at the same time.
“The test train was loaded with 39 tonnes of sand packages to simulate a full customer loading and then put through its paces towing one of the old two carriage sets, which, I am pleased to say, it managed comfortably and performed as expected.
“The team also tested that at fully laden new train is capable of hauling another one of the new trains. The power output is really impressive. It weighs 98 tonnes and then laden with 39 tonnes of extra weight it was still able to pull an old Metro car set, which with two carriages coupled together weighs 80 tonnes.
“Testing the new Metro fleet is a really detailed process. We are going through around 90,000 different checks and are leaving no stone unturned as we get the first train ready to welcome customers next year.
“The Stadler trains are going to be transformative, and we are really excited to get them into service. They have been shaped by customers, employees, trade unions and specialist user groups. We believe this to have been the most far-reaching consultation yet staged into a new train design. Over 23,000 customer responses have helped to shape the design.”
The new Stadler trains have battery technology, meaning they will be able to move around the network under their own power for limited periods of time, but the traction testing showed that a fully laden new train is also capable of pulling another new unit if this is ever be required.
Stadler, the Swiss train manufacturer, are building a total of 46 new Metro trains on behalf of Nexus.
A total of around 90,000 individual tests are required, with checks on everything, from seats and windscreen wipers, to more big-ticket items like brakes, CCTV, doors, wheels, and power supply.
There are around 19,000 hours of training time, with the full new train fleet of 46 trains needing to complete 37,000 kilometres as part of the fault free running phase of the project. There are around 22,000 standards and clauses to comply with and 480 staff to train up.
The testing process is to ensure that the new trains work safely and seamlessly with Metro’s 60 stations and 77 kilometres of track.
All of the on-board customer information systems need to be checked and be working correctly, along with the emergency settings and fail-safe systems.
Power consumption, ride quality, and performance reliability are all being scrutinised thoroughly.
The testing process has been ongoing since the first three Stadler trains arrived in North East England in March.
This started with some basic functionality testing within the depot and first trains started to be tested on our Nexus network in May 2023. It involves the same level of detail that a big car manufacturer undertakes when bringing a new model to the market, Nexus said.