23,000 passengers ‘design’ new British fleet


Author: Mankirat Kaur

Nexus, the operator of the Tyne and Wear Metro, has completed a £300m contract with Stadler to purchase 46 Class 555 full-length carriages to carry up to 550-plus passengers. The deal also includes a new depot created specifically to sustain and facilitate the new rolling stock.

Nexus, which runs the metro network in Newcastle, based in the north of England, said that its new vehicles are bespoke, the company having worked in collaboration with Transport Focus and Newcastle University’s Open Lab researchers to lead what it calls, ‘A huge, far-reaching design consultation in which more than 23,000 people gave their opinions, thoughts and recommendations on how best Metro’s new fleet of trains could meet their needs'.

Head of Fleet and Depot Replacement Programme, Michael Richardson, claims the scope of the project is a world first. ‘Following the successful consultation, Stadler’s main designer, Zurich-based Nose Design Experience, teamed up with Newcastle firm Octo Design, working in the shadow of Metro’s own Byker Viaduct, to make changes to their interior design based on the publics requirements,’ explained Richardson.

One particular focus has been on accessibility, with a unique design being adopted. ‘The handrails in wheelchair areas were previously drafted as featuring cushioned perch positions along the walls behind the wheelchair areas,’ said Richardson. ‘This design has now been changed to horizontal handrail based on feedback from wheelchair users. Our trains also boast an automatic sliding step located at each set of doors. The step deploys at every stop to close the gap between the train and platform edge.’

Further input from the 23,000 customers means the carriages are very bright and airy. ‘We have employed longitudinal seating to provide extra capacity for standing and for people with disabilities and luggage. Our metro passengers expressed a strong desire for linear ‘London Tube’ style seating.’  

Elsewhere, colour differentiation between poles and doors has been applied after public consultation revealed a preference for yellow grab poles. He explained, ‘Yellow is a colour that stands out for the visually impaired because it contrasts the internal face of the doors that are grey.’