The site of a new temporary Metro train depot in North Tyneside is being readied for construction work.
The former landfill site in Howdon is undergoing intensive earth works to get it ready for the new depot building and Metro tracks.
Excavators are being used to level the site and a reclaim material is being put down to form a solid base for the new facilities.
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. It 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.
Nexus Project Manager, Stephen Bowles, said: “We’ve stripped off all of the top soil on the site and we’re levelling it off. We are putting down reclaim materials and that’s the base that we can put the new Metro lines on that will serve the depot building. There is lots of work on site at the moment with earth moving equipment.
“Once all that is done the new depot will be built and the all of the associated railway infrastructure can go in.
“This depot will be used primarily for the existing Metro fleet while we rebuild the main depot in Gosforth. It will also be an access point for the new Metro trains they start to arrive in late 2021.”
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.