The new order brings to 46 the number of trains Stadler will deliver as part of a £362m programme which will transform the journey experience for Metro customers.
Nexus, the public body which owns and manages Metro, said the start of the manufacturing process was a historic moment – and begins the countdown to the first new train arriving for testing next year.
Stadler, the Swiss train builder, officially began the manufacturing process ahead of assembly at its factories at the end of the year. Scores of components are being supplied by firms in North East England, the UK and mainland Europe.
The first new train will arrive in 2022 and will enter passenger service in mid-2023, delivering a step-change in quality and reliability.
Nexus has ordered the four extra new trains after £95m was secured from the Government’s Transforming Cities Fund for the Metro Flow programme. The investment will allow Nexus to increase service frequency, reduce journey times, and improve reliability on Metro by dualling three sections of line between Pelaw and South Shields. The Metro Flow project will start on site in September 2022.
Nexus will use some of the funding to buy four more new trains on top of the 42 which have already been ordered.
Director of Finance and Resources at Nexus, John Fenwick, said: “I’m delighted to confirm that we have been able to order four extra new Metro trains on top of the 42 which are already on order, and that Stadler has now started the manufacturing process.
"Securing the funding to order these additional trains is the culmination of an enormous amount of work in successfully making the case for the Metro Flow project, which is a key tenet of our recovery plan as we emerge from the Coronavirus pandemic.
“The additional trains are required so that we can enhance the Metro timetable, delivering a more frequent and reliable service for our customers.
“The start of the manufacturing process is an exciting moment in the countdown to the new Metro trains, which are going to transform the journey experience for our customers.”
Cllr Martin Gannon, Chair of the North East Joint Transport Committee, said: “I’m thrilled with the announcement that an additional four new Metro trains have been secured through the Transforming Cities Fund which is administered in our region by the North East Joint Transport Committee. This is more great news for passengers and these new trains will offer an even better experience for passengers, as well as a greater reliability of services.
“Metro Flow will be truly transformational for people using the service every day to get to work, education or leisure destinations across the region. It will offer improved journey times across the entire Metro system so I’m sure this will encourage more people to consider public transport as a clean, safe and reliable way to travel.”
Andreas Discher, project manager at Stadler said: “Nexus’ decision to top up the order is good news for passengers and stakeholders alike. Following the successful completion of the design phase, we are very pleased to have started the manufacturing process this summer, with bodyshells now being built. The first bodyshell is set to be ready by the end of the year, which will be another significant moment for both Stadler and Nexus.”
Stadler is building 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 improved internet connectivity, charging points, air conditioning and a step-change in accessibility.
Among 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.
Stadler is also in the process of building a new £70m Metro depot at Gosforth as part of the new fleet project.
The Metro Flow project will be carried out by Buckingham Group Contracting Ltd, who won a £55m tender for the construction stage of the project.