Opened in the 1920s for electric trains, the Gosforth depot which has housed the metro fleet since 1980 is being demolished to be replaced by a new state-of-the-art facility
In a region that has given the world trains, it seems fitting that the Tyne and Wear metro fleet is housed in a depot steeped in proud railway heritage.
Subway trains have been carefully maintained at the South Gosforth site in Newcastle for 41 years.
It is a building that was first used for electric trains in the early 1920s before passing into British Rail hands.
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The Tyne and Wear PTE, now known as the Nexus, took over the Gosforth depot when it was named as the perfect location for the new underground maintenance center.
The century-old depot is now being demolished to make way for a new state-of-the-art facility, costing £ 70million. It will accommodate the new Metro train fleet in 2023.
The Gosforth depot may seem fairly unremarkable as metro trains pass through it, laden with commuters, but it is at the heart of metro operations.
This is an essential facility, and without it there would be no Tyne and Wear underground service.
The building was opened in 1923 by the London and North Eastern Railway. It replaced a fire-damaged railway depot in Walkergate and has since housed rolling stock.
The Tyne and Wear Passenger Transport Executive, now Nexus, took over the British Rail site in 1980. The depot location allowed trains to access lines west near Regent Center and east to Long Benton .
The building was the former home of Tyneside’s iconic electric trains, and now largely forgotten. The last electric train ran south of the river in 1963 and north of the river in June 1967.
The diesel trains were kept at the Gosforth depot for the next decade, but even then it was already seen as a potential base for the new underground system. When the project got the green light, British Rail duly handed it over to the PTE.
A complete renovation was needed to prepare it for the new shiny yellow metro cars. The work included the installation of overhead lines, inspection gantries, wheel towers and lifting jacks.
Metro Operations Manager John Alexander said: “The Gosforth depot has been Metro’s proud home for four decades. It was specially designed for the trains and the planners who designed Metro considered it the best place to store and maintain the fleet.
“This depot site will continue to be the home of Metro, but the old buildings are being demolished in phases as the new depot begins to take shape.
“This will be a new modern home for our new trains and I’m sure our customers are just as excited as our staff to see this transformation over the coming year.”
The Gosforth depot site covers 12 acres and is located near Regent Center station on the outskirts of Newcastle.
The new depot will include roads and inspection pits, cranes, jacks, test facilities, automatic train control equipment and a wheeled lathe.
Other features include a washing station for cleaning the exterior of trains and other areas dedicated to daily and periodic deep cleaning. The outdoor space is being adapted to optimize train movements, while minimizing noise for the benefit of local residents.
The new facility has been designed to ensure maximum availability and reliability of the fleet for decades to come.
It will significantly improve the working environment and become the seat of a wide range of activities, including preventive and corrective maintenance, overhauls and presentation of trains.
There will be storage for spare parts and material supplies and offices for training and support functions.
The building will promote sustainability, providing an attractive environment for employees. It will make the most of natural light and all workspaces will have windows.
Energy efficient lighting will be installed in all premises and solar panels on the roof will reduce overall energy consumption. On-site recycled water and rainwater will be collected and used for the train washing facilities.
Stadler is building a total of 46 new metro trains for Nexus, which will be delivered until 2024.
The new metro trains, which will be 15 times more reliable and reduce energy consumption by 30%, will be equipped with modern equipment such as charging stations, air conditioning and a radical change in accessibility.
Among the new features, an automatic sliding step at each door of the new trains will facilitate the movement of 50,000 passengers in Metro wheelchairs as well as people with strollers, luggage or children’s bicycles.
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