People of the North East are being asked to help design the next generation of Metrocars as part of an ambitious £1 billion bid to upgrade the trains, infrastructure and signalling over the next 20 years.
Nexus, which owns Metro, is finalising a bid to the Department for
Transport to help fund a new generation of trains plus associated
infrastructure that will meet the needs of customers for decades to
As part of this, Nexus have asked experts at Newcastle University’s
Open Lab to lead a series of events at which the public will be
challenged to help design the Metrocars of the future.
This will look at questions such as seating layouts, space for prams
and wheelchairs and facilities such as wifi and passenger information.
The Metro Futures project has included pop-up labs at locations across Tyne and Wear, social media discussions,
workshops and video diaries to record and share people’s experiences.
The Newcastle University team – based in the University’s
world-leading School of Computing Science - will share the feedback from
local people with train-building firms from around the world as Nexus
seeks a supplier to build the first new Metrocars since 1980.
Tobyn Hughes, Managing Director of Nexus, said: “A new Metrocar fleet
is essential to the future of Metro, and ranks as one of the most
important projects we have led.
“These new trains will be serving our communities for several decades
so we want to involve local people as much as possible in the design
process, thinking not just about how they might use trains now, but
through their whole lives.
“We are delighted to be working in partnership with Newcastle
University’s Open Lab who are bringing exciting new digital and social
tools to improve public engagement.”
Dr Simon Bowen, who is leading the project for Open Lab, said: “We
believe it’s the people who use Metro - and also those who don’t – who
are best placed to tell us what works and what doesn’t.
“For example, should there be somewhere for bags? What are the issues
when travelling with prams or wheelchairs? How accessible is Metro for
“At Open Lab, instead of the traditional passenger survey we are
interested in how modern technology such as mobiles, tablets and
web-based tools can be used to give people a voice in how the future
Metro should look.
“By sharing experiences and imagining alternatives, we hope to
discover how Metro is used now and how it might be used in forty years’
time. Our findings will be used to help Nexus commission a Metro that is
right for the future.”
The Tyne and Wear Metro is the busiest urban rail system outside
London, carrying 40 million passengers a year, and has used the same
fleet of trains since it opened in 1980.
Nexus is seeking to replace the Metrocar fleet as the central part of
a £1 billion investment programme over the next two decades. A
detailed business case for which is due to be presented to the
Department for Transport before the end of the year.
The Metro Futures project is part of Newcastle City Futures, a
partnership led by Newcastle University which brings together
businesses, academics, government, community organisations and the
public to consider the challenges facing Newcastle over the next 50
Professor Mark Tewdwr-Jones, Director of Newcastle City Futures,
said: "Newcastle City Futures is delighted to support Metro Futures as
an innovative project for Tyneside. This initiative demonstrates the way
citizens, businesses and the university can all work together to
proactively shape the future of Newcastle and its region."
In addition to the Newcastle University research, Nexus is providing
its own direct consultation on train layouts through its website, and
has commissioned passenger group Transport Focus to carry out market