Metro passengers can finally get their first look at how the transport system's long-awaited new trains after the first bodyshell of the new fleet was completed.
Manufacturer Stadler has described the moment as marking a "significant milestone" in the construction process of the Â£362 million trains.
The company signed a contract last year to build 46 new trains for the Tyne and Wear Metro and will start delivering to operator Nexus from late 2022.
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The Metro trains are currently being built at Stadler's factory in Switzerland, and will entirely replace the current Metro fleet after they they enter passenger service from 2023.
The new trains will reportedly be 15 times more reliable, cut energy consumption by 30 per cent and will feature modern touches such as charging points, air conditioning and a "step change in accessibility" thanks to an automatic sliding step at every door of the new trains, making travel for Metro's 50,000 wheelchair passengers much easier.
Stadler say the completition of the first bodyshell paves the way for seats and other interal features to be installed, and it gives travellers their first proper look at the new trains on the assembly line, complete with the iconic yellow colour scheme.
Project manager, Adrian Wetter from Stadler, said: â€œCompleting the first bodyshell is a highly symbolic landmark in the manufacturing process, and an outward sign that the vehicles are really beginning to take shape, after a period of design and preparation.
"With the first now ready and painted in the Tyne and Wear Metro colours, we look forward to seeing this stage in full swing, with lots more produced over the months ahead.â€
Nexus added that it was a significant moment for a "historic project that will transform Metro for its customers, delivering a step change in quality and reliability.
Head of fleet and depot replacement programme at Nexus, Michael Richardson, said: â€œWe 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.
â€œThis 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.
â€œThe first train will be delivered by Stadler at the end of 2022 and it will enter passenger service from 2023. We are at the business end of an exciting project that is going to transform the Tyne and Wear Metro for many decades to come.â€
Stadler is also building a new depot for service and maintaining trains with a contract to do so for 35 years.
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