A train from the Tyne and Wear Metro’s sparkling new fleet has been spotted pulling into stations for the first time, as it came through a crucial test run unscathed.
The Swiss-built carriage was spotted running between South Gosforth and Monkseaton in the early hours of Wednesday, as it was taken for a first test ride on the Metro network since arriving in the North East earlier this year. Metro operator Nexus confirmed that the trial produced “no glitches”, while bosses still hope that passengers will begin to see the £362m new fleet entering regular service by the end of this year.
The long-awaited trains should represent a substantial upgrade on the existing fleet, which has served the North East for more than four decades and has become increasingly unreliable. The 46 new trains being built by manufacturer Stadler, all of which should be in service by 2025, boast a range of modern features including air conditioning, USB charging points, Tube-style linear seating and a retractable step at each doorway.
Overnight tests are due to become a regular feature as more and more trains arrive at the Metro base in Gosforth, while people may also soon catch a glimpse of them running during daylight hours soon. After Wednesday’s successful run, Nexus major projects director Cathy Massarella said: “We’re really pleased to say that our new Metro train has completed its first test run out on the network and performed really well.
“This is a considerable period of detailed testing to get the trains ready for our customers. Further test runs will be taking place over the coming weeks and months.
“It was a proud moment for us to see the train leave the depot at Gosforth and join the mainline. There were no glitches to report.
“The first test was from South Gosforth to Monkseaton and then back again. Other test runs will be taking place on different parts of the network.
“Our customers, employees, specialist user groups and trade unions helped to design the new trains as part of a far-reaching consultation exercise that received 23,000 responses. We are getting a bespoke design from Stadler, with a sleek modern appearance, inside and out.
“These trains will have to go through a phase of rigorous testing on our network, and all our drivers will need to undertake a period of train handling experience during the implementation phase of the project. Once the trains are in service they are going to be transformative for our customers and our workforce in terms of comfort, quality and reliability.”
Stadler has so far delivered three trains from the new fleet, which Metro drivers must also be trained up to use before they can be put into the regular timetable.
Claudius Oblasser, project manager for Stadler, added: “The runs taking place last night mark the beginning of a rigorous programme of testing to interrogate the safety and performance of the entire fleet. Scores of tests will be carried out over the coming month to make sure it’s ready for passengers. They will cover every aspect of the train’s design, from the power supply and braking systems to digital passenger information boards and CCTV cameras. We’re pleased to have got to this point in the production process, which brings the fleet one step closer to entry into service.”
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