UK: Tyne & Wear Metro owner and operator Nexus has called tenders for the supply of 42 two-car 1·5 kV DC electric trainsets to replace the current fleet. This follows a government commitment to provide £337m towards the fleet replacement project which was announced in the November budget, with Nexus to provide a further £25m.

Nexus said on January 25 that it was expecting ‘global interest’ in the MetroFutures Rolling Stock Replacement Programme. Responses should be submitted by March 8. Industry briefings will then be held, and Nexus expects to announce the shortlisted bidders by ‘late summer’ and the winning bidder in 2019. It anticipates that the first of the new trains would be delivered from the end of 2021, with replacement of the existing fleet expected to take two years.

A fleet maintenance contract would come into operation during 2020, covering matanance of the existing fleet as well as the new vehicles at a facility which would be built on the existing depot site at Gosforth.

The new vehicles are required to offer greater reliability and ‘improved comfort and convenience’, with air-conditioning, digital connectivity, phone charging points and a ‘linear seat layout to create more space for wheelchairs, standing room and luggage.’

‘The trains that we will buy will transform the reliability of the Metro system, as well as reducing energy usage and updating the experience of travelling’ according to Nexus Managing Director Tobyn Hughes. ‘We will also future-proof them so that they have the capability of serving more destinations on a wider network in the future. We are in the process of finalising the specification, and we have used extensive market research to inform the interior layout, for example by providing more standing room and space for luggage.’