THE first Metro train to go grey as part of a multi-million-pound makeover is now in service.
The first train in the Nexus fleet to sport its new yellow, grey and black colour scheme was unveiled at the Metro depot in Gosforth on Friday.
The new paintwork, part of the £385m Metro: All Change modernisation programme. replaces the red, green and blue livery introduced in the 1990s.
All 90 trains running on the Metro network carrying passengers from North Tyneside to Newcastle, Gateshead, Sunderland and South Shields are being refitted with redesigned interiors including new seats, lights and flooring, as reported in the News Guardian last month.
Engineering technical manager David Walker said: “There are changes to accompany the new livery including lighting, seating and flooring and extra space by the doors for disabled passengers.
“The flooring by the door is textured to be anti-slip, and the green door buttons contrast with the colour scheme to aid the visually impaired.
“The driver now has air-conditioning in his area to improve his working conditions because a happy driver is a safer driver.
“The trains are insured for around £2m each, so they’re expensive animals. You don’t throw them away like you would an old car.”
The trains, now over 30 years old, are being sent down to Doncaster to be stripped down, refitted and repainted.
The makeover is expected to take four years to complete.
The first train, now in service after being transported back up to the Hylton Street Metro depot in North Shields early last month, has been named after the late Newcastle Central MP Harry Cowans in recognition of the work he did in the 1970s to help set up the Tyne and Wear Metro system.
Nexus director-general Bernard Garner said: “It’s great to unveil our first newly-refurbished Metro train, the first of 90 trains to be modernised.
“It is also fitting to name the train after the late Harry Cowans, a man who played such a key role in getting the Metro system built 30 years ago.”
Among those at last week’s launch ceremoney were North Tyneside MP Mary Glindon, Newcastle East MP Nick Brown and Margaret Cowans, widow of the late Mr Cowans.