Tyne and Wear Metro's new fleet of trains, the biggest project in its history, has hit a snag, causing delays in their introduction. Its operator, Nexus confirmed however, that despite the setback, the first new trains would be expected to enter service in late 2024.
The company confirmed that further testing under specific conditions was needed. It also revealed that the testing already conducted has revealed the need for adjustments to the fleet.
Michael Richardson, head of fleet and depot replacement at Nexus told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “We’ve recently identified that further tests need to be conducted on the traction of the train, specifically when the rail conditions are unexpectedly poor.
"Stadler and Nexus are currently working through these now to ensure that trains perform to a high standard for the benefit of passengers."
Meanwhile, Metro is focused on maximising the performance of its current fleet. Passenger numbers have risen 13.5% in the past year, nearing pre-pandemic levels. With the Tyne Bridge refurbishment approaching, reliable service is crucial.
Stadler is collaborating with suppliers to secure spare parts for the aging fleet, and Metro has invested in improved maintenance, including airline-adapted heaters for winter protection. These measures have boosted fleet availability, the primary cause of delays, since Christmas.
In December, two new trains arrived from Switzerland for testing. Since then, the trains have undergone rigorous trials, including 22,000 compliance checks, 90,000 individual tests, and extensive staff training.
However, there has been good news for Nexus as it unveiled its new Gosforth depot last week. It is providing Stadler with more space for train maintenance and preparation.
Timetables have also been adjusted to reflect current performance and prioritise service frequency over strict adherence to the timetable, offering passengers a more consistent service even if not perfectly on schedule.
Richardson added: “We are still aiming to have the first train in service for customers in 2024 and we will have more of an exact timescale once this work is completed.”
Photo Credit: Nexus