The first bodyshell for the Tyne and Wear Metro’s new £362m train fleet has been revealed, marking a significant milestone in the ongoing manufacturing process.
The new Metro trains are currently being built at one of the rail manufacturer Stadler’s Switzerland factories.
The completion of the first bodyshell paves the way for the seats and other internal features to be installed.
It also gives Metro customers a first proper look at the new Metro trains on the assembly line, including the iconic yellow colour scheme.
Stadler, the international train builder who are making 46 new trains for Metro, said they were pleased to have completed the first bodyshell, and they will deliver the first new train in late 2022.
Nexus, the public body which owns and manages Tyne and Wear Metro, said it was a significant moment for a historic project that will transform Metro for its customers, delivering a step change in quality and reliability.
The new trains will entirely replace the current Metro fleet and are set to enter passenger service from 2023.
Head of Fleet and Depot Replacement Programme at Nexus, Michael Richardson, said: “We are at a significant moment in the production of the new Metro train fleet, and it is really exciting to see the first train on the Stadler production line taking shape in its iconic yellow livery.
“This is the first of 46 new Metro trains we have on order. The bodyshell paves the way for the train to be fitted out with the seats, information screens and all of the many other interior items that people fed back on during the extensive public consultation process that we carried out.
The production of the Metro bodyshell involves welding, using welding robots, sandblasting, and the application of anti-corrosion protection, before finally, they’re painted.
Like many of the processes in the production phase, this stage is very labour-intensive, with teams of people deployed to build the trains being tailormade to suit the characteristics of the network and the client’s requirements.
The Metro carbody is made of aluminium, which has excellent anti-corrosive properties to ensure that the new trains achieve their life expectancy.
Once carbodies are completed, Stadler will move on to the next stage, known as final assembly. This refers to the fitting of the main components that make up the train, including the bogies, equipment cases, piping, wiring, flooring, windows, seats and other internal fixtures.
As well as building and delivering 46 new trains for the Tyne and Wear Metro, Stadler is responsible for building a new depot and for service and maintaining trains, which it has been doing since October 2020.
The new Metro trains, which will be 15 times more reliable and will cut energy consumption by 30%, will have modern features including charging points, air conditioning and a step-change in accessibility.
Among the 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.