A major refurbishment of Metro trains has been completed five months ahead of schedule.
DB Regio Tyne and Wear, which runs the Metro on behalf of Nexus, delivered the £30m scheme as part of the Metro fleet’s ‘three-quarter life’ refurbishment project.
The look and feel of the Metro cars are brighter, fresher and much nicer and this has had a direct impact and benefit for passengersLouise Shaw, director of engineering at DB Regio
A total of 86 Metro carriages have been modernised over the last five years through the £389m Metro all change modernisation programme.
The trains were stripped down to their frames and corroded bodywork was replaced, extending their service life by another ten years, while also being brought up to the Government’s required standard on accessibility.
Re-upholstered seating and new lighting has been installed, along with a new carriage layout to afford more space for wheelchair users.
The Metro trains have also got a vibrant new colour scheme, with a sleek metallic grey and black finish, while the train-door control systems have been replaced.
The work was initially carried out by Wabtec Rail in Doncaster and completed by DB Regio at its South Gosforth depot.
Louise Shaw, director of engineering at DB Regio, said: “The look and feel of the Metro cars are brighter, fresher and much nicer, and this has had a direct impact and benefit for passengers.
“It’s been a real team effort with everyone from both DB Regio and Wabtec contributing to make things happen. We have worked tirelessly on this project to see it through to completion.
“From getting the cars ready to go to Doncaster to maintaining those that arrived back at the depot, staff across the board have shown a commitment to doing the job well, and at times, going above and beyond the call of duty.
“Leading this project has been a rewarding challenge at an engineering level with the Metrocars being stripped down to their frames and built back up again.”
Director of rail and infrastructure for Nexus, Raymond Johnstone, said: “The refurbishment of the Metro fleet is a vital part our £389m modernisation programme. This will extend the service life of Metro trains into the 2020s.
“The money has mainly been spent on stripping the carriages down and replacing the metal bodywork, which has suffered from corrosion. We have also raised accessibility standards for passengers with disabilities, and have changed the carriage layouts to increase the amount of space.
“Our long-term goal is to make a strong business case to government for a brand new fleet of trains and that work is already under way.”
Coun John Harrison, chairman of the North East Combined Authority’s Tyne and Wear Transport Sub-Committee, said: “Our Metro system is an integral part of our transport infrastructure across Tyne and Wear and is a valuable regional asset.
“Metro is the busiest light railway system outside of London and it is vitally important for the area to have this modern and efficient transport network connecting our cities, towns and communities.
“This £30m refurbishment will significantly enhance the passenger experience and what Metro can offer, and I hope it encourages even more travellers to use the system.”
During its 35-year life span, the fleet of Metrocars has undergone two significant refurbishments, to renew technical equipment, improve the passenger experience and extend its life to around 2025.