Further delay for 46 new Tyne and Wear Metro trains over need for more testing

Nexus bosses have said they hope that the first new train will be in use by the end of the year. Credit: Nexus

The launch of a new fleet of Tyne and Wear Metro trains costing £362 million has been hit with another major delay.

Passengers have been warned that they will have to wait even longer for the new trains to come into service.

It comes after problems emerged, meaning the Swiss-built carriages are now in need of more rigorous testing.

The announcement marks the latest setback in a project described as the “biggest and most important” in the Metro’s history.

It was originally hoped that the 46 new trains, which should be far more reliable and boast modern features such as air conditioning, would be gradually introduced between summer 2023 and early 2025.

Nexus bosses later pledged that the first of the new fleet would be in use by the end of 2023, before that target date was pushed back to “early 2024” last September.

But transport officials now say that their delivery will have to be delayed even further – and are hoping to have a first new train in use by the end of 2024.

Previous delays to the new fleet have been blamed on issues including driver training, inflation and the war in Ukraine.

The news will come as a major disappointment to Metro customers, who recently had to endure the worst period of under-performance in the network’s history.

Nexus has said it "remained focused" on getting the best possible performance on current trains. Credit: Nexus

Michael Richardson, head of fleet and depot replacement at Nexus, said that the new trains’ traction needed more testing under adverse weather conditions.

Mr Richardson said: “We’ve recently identified that further tests need to be conducted on the traction of the train, specifically when the rail conditions are unexpectedly poor.

"Stadler and Nexus are currently working through these now to ensure that trains perform to a high standard for the benefit of passengers.

"This is quite typical during the roll out of a new bespoke fleet and Stadler and Nexus are working closely to minimise delays to the project timescales as much as possible."

The Metro’s existing trains have been in use since the system opened in 1980 and are well beyond their 30-year lifespan, with Nexus and Stadler struggling to find spare parts to keep the ageing carriages operational.

That unreliability was a major factor in a recent dip in performance that saw a record low of just 61% of Metro trains arrive on time during a four-week period in November and December, though punctuality has since improved.

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