Nexus, the public body which owns and manages the Tyne and Wear Metro, is investing an extra £900,000 in the maintenance of Metro’s ageing fleet of trains.
Investment will be targeted at preventing power faults, a train cab refurbishment programme and for extra staff at the Metro depot. The aim is to improve performance reliability on Metro by reducing train failures which can cause delays for passengers.
The money, which is additional to the existing fleet maintenance budget, will be spent over the rest of the current financial year and in the financial year ending March 2020.
Managing Director of Nexus, Tobyn Hughes, said: “This extra funding, £900,000 over the next two years, will be used to give an extra boost to the maintenance of our current Metro fleet.
“We aim to get the reliability of the Metro fleet as high as we possibly can, although it will continue to be a challenge because of its age.
“The longer term solution is to buy new trains. We are in the process of finding a supplier to design and build our new rolling stock. We aim to see the first new trains in service by late 2021.”
The current Metro fleet is more than 40 years old and Nexus say that the trains are increasingly challenging to maintain. The age of the Metro trains means that reliability will continue to be an issue and Nexus is doing all it can to minimise the problem.
Nexus is already secured £337m of Government funding for a new Metro fleet of trains and it aims to have the first of the new trains in service by late 2021.
Nexus has already announced that five firms are on a shortlist to design, build and maintain the new Metro fleet.
Detailed negotiations with all five are underway and a single preferred bidder at the end of next year.
The shortlisted bidders are challenged to design trains which will operate efficiently and robustly, supplying a step change in Metro availability and performance, with a bright modern appearance.
Nexus wants to see trains which improve passenger flow and dwell times at stations through improved seating layouts, wider doors and stand-back areas, wide aisles, and a layout to encourage flow of passengers through the vehicle.
This is also aimed at improving passengers’ sense of security, accessibility for all and providing space for large items and luggage. There will be improved digital connectivity for passengers and air conditioning.