Work has started on Tyne and Wear Metro’s new £70m train depot.
Contractors have begun removing large sections of track and overhead line to make way for the new building at South Gosforth in Newcastle.
The new Metro depot will be home to the new train fleet over the coming years, heralding a bright future for the transport system. The preparatory works currently underway will pave the way for demolition to start next month.
It is expected to take four years for the new Metro depot to be ready.
Stadler, the Swiss train builder, is delivering the new Metro train fleet on behalf of Nexus, and has appointed VolkerFitzpatrick to build the depot. Stadler took over maintenance of the old fleet in October last year and will look after the new trains for 35 years.
Metro development director, Neil Blagburn, said: “I’m delighted that work has started on site for our new £70m depot at Gosforth.
“This marks the beginning of a four-year project to create a modern, new home for our new train fleet, which is set to enter service from 2023.
“Our construction partner has mobilised on site and is now removing the original tracks and overhead lines from the depot sidings and within the depot buildings. This paves the way for the larger scale demolition work to start in the coming months and creates the footprint that is needed for the new depot building.
“The new depot will be transformational for Metro. The current facility is 100 years old and needs to be replaced with modern facilities. It will deliver a step-change in quality and functionality for the maintenance teams.
“The depot will transform over a four-year period and the old buildings will disappear in phases. We are storing up to a quarter of our trains at a temporary at Howdon throughout this process.”
Rob Baxter, managing director for Stadler Rail Service UK, added: “This preparatory work is an essential part of the process to construct the purpose-built depot that will accommodate the new state-of-the art trains being manufactured by Stadler.
“The new depot has been designed to ensure maximum availability and reliability of the fleet and will vastly improve the working environment for our staff. We are pleased to see contractor, VolkerFitzpatrick, reach another stage in the project, which brings us one step closer to our new trains entering passenger service.”
Marcus Dench, VolkerFitzpatrick senior project manager, said: “The start of these works marks the beginning of a complex three year project for our team. As we continue to remove track and overhead line equipment, our aim is to ensure all redundant materials are reused elsewhere, as much as possible, to offset any waste from site and become a sustainable project.
“As we continue to adapt the current depot, we also aim to keep local residents informed of our progress through our community app. We will use the platform to post updates on the depot’s construction, including details of upcoming work activities, news, and initiatives and events for the local community.”
Stadler is building a total of 46 new Metro trains for Nexus, which will be delivered up to 2024. They will be responsible for servicing and maintaining these trains for 35 years, underscoring their commitment to the regional economy.
The new trains, which will be 15 times more reliable and will cut energy consumption by 30%, 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 children’s buggies, luggage or bicycles.