A new temporary Metro train depot in North Tyneside is starting to take shape, with the first new tracks put in place.
The former landfill site in Howdon has had ballast, rails and sleepers put into place, along with drainage and site access works.
Nexus, the public body which owns and manages the Tyne and Wear Metro, is building the depot as a temporary maintenance facility for the some of the current Metro fleet while the main Metro depot in Gosforth in Newcastle is rebuilt.
The Howdon site will play a key role in the phased delivery of the new Metro fleet, which is scheduled to begin arriving at the end of 2021.
Customer Services Director, Huw Lewis, said: “Our new depot site at Howdon is really starting to take shape. New tracks are going in and the work will start on the buildings which will be used while we transition to the new depot in Gosforth.
“2020 is going to be a really exciting year for the Tyne and Wear Metro. We will get to see what our new trains look like, who is going to build them, and we will also be marking Metro’s 40th anniversary.”
Nexus aims to have the temporary depot ready for use by the summer of 2020.
The site will be used for the cleaning and preparation of up to ten Metro trains during the redevelopment of the Gosforth depot.
Nexus has secured Government 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 will be building the temporary Metro depot on behalf of Nexus.
The successful bidder will design, build and maintain a fleet and maintenance facilities that will serve Metro for 35 years, including a new depot at the existing site in Gosforth, Newcastle.
A detailed specification takes account of consultation with more than 3,000 Metro passengers in 2016 and 2017, followed by market engagement with train builders to refine the plans.
The shortlisted bidders are challenged to design trains which will operate efficiently and robustly, supplying a step change in Metro availability and performance, with a bright modern appearance.
Nexus wants to see trains which improve passenger flow and dwell times at stations through improved seating layouts, wider doors and stand-back areas, wide aisles, and a layout to encourage flow of passengers through the vehicle.
This is also aimed at improving passengers’ sense of security, accessibility for all and providing space for large items and luggage. There will be improved digital connectivity for passengers and air conditioning.
The successful bidder will also be responsible for maintaining the current fleet of trains to ensure there is a smooth transition between the old and new fleet between 2022 and 2024.