Tyne and Wear Metro Stadler train completes its first test run
A generational step change is coming down the tracks for Newcastle upon Tyne. The north of England city is on the cusp of a much-anticipated revamp of its ageing Tyne and Wear Metro light rail network. Some of the city’s famous late night revellers may have already spotted the shape of things to come. The first new Stadler Metro train has successfully completed its first test run on the network as part of the detailed preparations to get it ready for entering service at the end of the year. The operators, Nexus, say that the test went smoothly and that the new train had performed well.
The testing, which is the latest phase of the 362 million pound (420 million euro) new Metro fleet programme, took place recently, during the early hours of the morning on a section of line between South Gosforth and Monkseaton.
It was the first time that the new Metro train has had a run on the mainline. The Stadler Class 555 Metro train, the first of 46 that Nexus has on order, is undergoing a period of testing and driver training before entering service. Nexus say the new Metro fleet will offer a comfortable, new, air conditioned, open plan layout. Few would argue that the trains will be a huge improvement on the forty year old fleet currently serving the city, and neighbouring Gateshead and Sunderland.
Rigorous programme of testing
“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”, said Cathy Massarella, the Major Projects Director at Nexus, the operators of the Tyne and Wear Metro. “This a considerable period of detailed testing to get the trains ready for our customers. Further test runs will be taking place on different parts of the network over the coming months. 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.”
The rigorous testing and driver training will continue while the delivery of the new fleet continues. “The runs taking place 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 months to make sure it’s ready for passengers”, said Claudius Oblasser, project manager for Stadler. “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.”
Air conditioning and accessibility
Stadler, the Swiss train manufacturer, are building a total of 46 new Metro trains on behalf of Nexus. The fleet will enter service in phases and the aim is to have all of the new trains in service by 2025. Stadler has delivered three new trains to North East England so far, and more are set to arrive later this year. Earlier this year, the network sent drivers to Brno, in the Czech Republic, to try out the new trains at Stadler’s test facility.
Designated class 555, the new Stadler units are a bespoke design for the Tyne and Wear Metro. The new trains have been developed in tandem with an extensive passenger consultation. Asked for features include linear seating, charging points, air conditioning and accessibility features. Among these new features will be an automatic sliding step at every door to enable seamless boarding, making travel easier for Metro’s 50,000 wheelchair-using passengers.
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