And then there were three! Nexus announces final shortlist for new trains

Nexus have announced the final shortlist of three firms who will be asked to submit best and final offers to supply a fleet of new 42 trains for the Tyne and Wear Metro with delivery due from the end of 2021. The three companies are all firmly established in supply rail vehicles across not only the UK but also the world. They are CAF, Hitachi and Stadler.

The original shortlist saw five firms asked to submit initial bids but after Nexus have scrutinised these they have narrowed the field down to just the three companies. The two who have not been asked to proceed are Downer EDI Rail Pty Ltd (a joint venture between Downer EDI Rail and CRRC Changhun Railway Vehicles Co. Ltd) and Bombardier. Following Bombardier losing the contract to supply new trains for the DLR just last week this could be considered another blow for that company.

For the first time it has been confirmed that 42 trains will be part of the order which would seem to suggest these will be longer units than the current Metro cars as they will be replacing a fleet of 90 which will see a phased withdrawal between 2022 and 2024.

The next step in the project will see the three companies asked to make best and final offers this summer with Nexus then making a final analysis of what is submitted. The final decision on who will supply the new trains will then be made in January 2020. The first trains are due to be delivered from late 2021 with their introduction following from 2022 onwards. The successful bidder will also take on responsibility for maintaining the current fleet and ensuring there is a smooth transition between the two fleets.

Tobyn Hughes, Managing Director of Nexus, said: “This is another hugely important step towards delivering a new fleet of trains for the Tyne and Wear Metro. We are down to the final three bidders. Each firm has a proven track record of building trains for railway systems throughout the world. We have carefully evaluated the bids and will now begin the final stage of the process where bids will be refined. Bidders will then come back with best and final offers and we will sit down and pick a preferred bidder. The winner will then start the task of designing and building 42 new trains, which will transform the passenger experience of the Metro system.”

The new trains are expected to operate “efficiently and robustly” with a “bright and modern appearance”. They should improve passenger flow and dwell times at stations through improved seating layouts, wider doors and stand back areas, wide aisles and a layout to encourage flow of passengers through the vehicle. There should also be accessibility for all, an improved sense of passenger security, space for large items and luggage and air conditioning.

The successful bidder will be expected to design, build and maintain the fleet and maintenance facilities. This will include a new depot at Gosforth with both expected to last for 35 years.

The joint project for the trains and new depot facilities will cost £362 million with £337 million funding coming from the government.

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