Nexus have announced Swiss company Stadler as their preferred bidder for a £362m contract to build new trains for the Tyne and Wear Metro.
It is hoped the new fleet of trains will transform performance, passenger experience and deliver significant energy savings.
Nexus, the public body which owns and operates the Tyne and Wear Metro, had undertaken a year-long global search for a manufacturing partner to deliver 42 new trains up to 2024, settling finally on the Swiss-based company – who will manufacture the trains at their recently-opened factory in St Margrethen, Switzerland.
However, despite being manufactured overseas, Nexus said more than 30 UK firms would be involved in supplying parts for the new trains – half of which were located in the North East.
Managing Director of Nexus, Tobyn Hughes, said: “Our passengers expect the best in the world when they travel, and that is what they will get from our new trains.
“We asked for the best trains for the best price, based on what local people said they wanted to see, providing excellent reliability for years to come, transforming the passenger experience and delivering huge energy savings.
“Stadler has delivered on all fronts and the company will put in place new supply chains here in North East England and the UK securing local jobs. We look forward to working with our new partner and the extensive UK supply chain which will support them not just to build the new trains but maintain them over the next 35 years.”
The new trains, which are based on the ideas and suggestions of more than 3,000 passengers, will cut the Metro’s high voltage power consumption by 30% while providing its 36 million passengers with modern features including wi-fi, charging points, air conditioning and a step change in accessibility.
Information screens will also be implemented throughout the train, as well as external destination screens and digital CCTV cameras.
As part of the wider benefits of the contract, a new £70m train depot featuring sedum roofing, rainwater recycling, daylight capture and other environmental features will also be constructed.
Councillor Martin Gannon, Leader of Gateshead Council and Chair of the Joint Transport Committee for North East England, said: “We have a bold vision for transport in North East England, and a world-class Metro system is the key to unlocking this transformation.
“We have secured Government investment in our region for new Metro trains which will meet the needs of our people for decades to come, secure hundreds of jobs and help us tackle the climate emergency.
“These new trains will be rooted in our region – they are designed based what more than 3,000 passengers told us what they wanted from their daily journey. They will be built and brought into service by exploiting manufacturing excellence in new supply chains here in North East England and across the UK. They will be maintained and operated by the proud workers who make Metro happen.”
Stadler Director of Sales, Ansgar Brockmeyer, added: “The contract with Nexus represents an important milestone for Stadler in Great Britain. After Glasgow and Liverpool, this is the third metro operator to opt for a Stadler vehicle. We look forward to working with Nexus and our suppliers in North East England.”
The initial order of 42 trains may be increased to 46 if Nexus plans to increase the frequency of Metro through the Flow Project, win Government funding.
The total value of the partnership between Nexus and Stadler, which will include decommissioning of the existing Metro fleet, could rise to £700m over 35 years, through a contract to maintain the new trains for up to 35 years depending on performance.
The Department for Transport will also provide revenue support to help meet the maintenance costs of the new trains.