The second phase of work on the new £70m Gosforth Metro depot has been successfully completed.
Three more new sections of line have been installed on the site so that the new Metro trains can serve the state-of-the-art facility.
The new depot will be home to the new Metro train fleet, which is set to start arriving in North-East England at the end of the year.
More of the old depot building, which dates back to 1923, is set to be demolished this month, and the new depot building itself will soon start to be fitted out. Further works on new sidings are planned, ahead of more demolition work in early 2023.
Stadler, the Swiss train manufacturer, is making 46 new Metro train on behalf of Metro operator, Nexus, and has appointed construction specialists Volker Fitzpatrick to build the new Metro depot.
Head of Fleet and Depot Replacement Programme for Nexus, Michael Richardson, said: “We are delighted with the progress that is being made on our new £70m Gosforth depot, which will be a modern new home for the new Metro trains.
“The second phase of the depot project has been completed, with more of the new tracks laid and the new buildings almost ready to start being fitted out. These newly laid tracks are vital so that trains can access the new depot.
“In a few weeks’ time we will start to see more of the old depot building pulled down as we continue the transition to these modern new facilities – which herald the start of a bright future for the Tyne and Wear Metro.
"Stadler and Volker Fitzpatrick are delivering these historic projects on behalf of Nexus and it is going really well. The new depot will be a more sustainable, environmentally friendly facility, which is fit for the 21st century.”
Michael Steiner, Stadler’s Programme Director in Newcastle, said: “With the first new train set to arrive in Newcastle at the end of the year, work is well under way to build a modern, fit-for-purpose, technologically-sophisticated facility, with a focus on sustainability. It has been future-proofed to enable it to function effectively for the duration of Stadler’s 35-year contract, which sees us prioritise local people, local goods and local services. We’re delighted to have reached another significant point in the work, and thank our partners, Nexus and VolkerFitzpatrick for their continued collaboration with us.”
The rebuild of Gosforth Metro depot involves the complete demolition of the old depot, the construction of a brand new one, as well as the replacement of new rail routes throughout the site.
The first two stages of the project saw the demolition of train stabling sheds to the west of the depot, the partial demolition of the main depot buildings and the start of construction of new ones, as well as the removal and renewal of six train stabling lines. Stage two was completed in time for the Jubilee weekend.
The building work has been configured to enable the current Metro fleet to continue operating from the Gosforth depot, while construction work takes place.
Nexus is also using a smaller temporary train depot at Howdon while it transitions to the new facility at Gosforth. VolkerFitzpatrick is building the new Gosforth depot on behalf of Stadler.
The new depot will comprise inspection roads and pits, cranes, jacks, test facilities, automatic train-checking equipment and a wheel-lathe. Other features include a wash-plant to clean train exteriors and other dedicated areas for both daily and periodic deep-cleaning. The outside area is being adapted to optimise train movements, while keeping noise to a minimum for the benefit of local residents.
The new facility, covering 12 acres and located in the suburbs of Newcastle, has been designed to ensure maximum availability and reliability of the fleet for decades to come. It will vastly improve the working environment and become home to a wide range of activities, including preventative and corrective maintenance, overhauls and train presentation. There will be storage for spare parts and material supplies and office space for training and support functions.
The building will promote sustainability, providing an attractive environment for employees. It will make best use of natural light, and all work spaces will have windows. Water recycled on site and rainwater will be harvested and used for train washing facilities and toilets. There will be a dedicated, secure area for bikes, and showers will be provided for people cycling to and from work. Charging bays for electric cars will be installed.
Stadler has pledged to support the regional economy and involve as many Tyne and Wear-based companies in the project as it can. More than 90 per cent of the suppliers used for the depot build project are based in the UK, with key suppliers from North East England.
Stadler is manufacturing a total of 46 new Metro trains for Nexus, which are currently being made, with the process to build bogies — structures with wheels attached that carry the bodyshells — well under way.
The first train is scheduled to arrive in Newcastle for a rigorous programme of testing in November.
The new Metro trains, which will be 15 times more reliable and will cut energy consumption by 30 per cent, will have modern features including charging points, air conditioning and a step-change in accessibility. Among the new features will be an automatic sliding step at every door of the new trains, making travel easier for Metro’s 50,000 wheelchair passengers as well as people with push-chairs, luggage or bicycles.