Special interest groups get first look at the new Metro train

Nexus have recently invited special interest groups to experience the new Stadler Metro trains to allow them to also see how their feedback has shaped the final interior design. The groups have included people with visual and hearing impairments, physical and learning disabilities as well as cyclists.

Special familiarisation days were offered to these groups to allow them to see a range of accessibility features in action. This includes the special sliding step at each set of doors and increased space for wheelchairs. Experts from the Metro project team were on hand to provide the guided tours which took place at the Nexus Learning Centre in South Shields. This is the first time that members of the public have been able to inside one of the new trains.

Jimmy Simpson, 23 from South Shields who has cerebral palsy, said: “There is much more room to move around in my wheelchair. It is much more accessible. I can get on board the new train more safely without having to worry about the gap due to the sliding step.”

Peter Bennetts, 68 from South Shields who is registered blind, said: “These new trains bring huge improvements for someone like me. The special lights, the audio-visual technology, the way the doors work, and the fact you can press a button to speak directly to the driver in an emergency are all things which seem to me to be extremely positive.”

Matthew Hunter, 25 from Cramlington who has learning disabilities, commented: “These new trains are more futuristic. You can tell that the design is more advanced, and that more things have been considered around accessibility and capacity, with wider aisles. You can tell all of the concerns that really matter, like people in wheelchairs being able to access these trains, has been considered, and it’s way more advanced than the current fleet.”

Some of the accessibility features that the trains offer are special lighting at doors, audio visual displays, an intercom to speak to the driver and an automatic sliding step they is deployed at stops to close the gap between the train and platform edge.

Michael Richardson, Head of Fleet and Depot Replacement at Nexus, said: “The new Metro trains have been specifically designed using customer feedback and with accessibility in mind.  I’d like to thank all of those customers who took the time to be involved in the consultation process. It was a pleasure to host these visits and for these important customer groups to see the new trains for themselves.

“The accessibility features are wide ranging, from special lights and audio-visual technology, to more space for wheelchairs in the carriages. The automatic sliding step eliminates the challenge of there being a gap between the train and the platform edge, which is a huge benefit for the 50,000 wheelchair journeys which are made on Metro every year.”

So far, three of the new trains have been delivered with more expected to arrive later this year. Testing of the trains continues with the first due to run a demonstration run before the year is out.

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