The operator of the Tyne and Wear Metro has invited ‘train builders from around the world’ to bid for combined contracts worth up to £500m.
The work includes design, build and maintenance for a new fleet and depot on the urban transit network
Nexus, the public body that owns and operates Metro, has started the process by issuing a selection questionnaire that it will use to narrow down potential bidders to five before formal tender documents are released at the end of the summer
An artist's impression (from 2016) of a new train
Detailed negotiations will then take place 0before a winner is chosen at the end of next year with Nexus aiming for the first new trains to be delivered by the end of 2021.
The plan to replace the 40-year old rolling stock on the network got a boost in last year’s Autumn Budget with an allocation of £337m from the National Productivity Investment Fund.
Nexus managing director Tobyn Hughes said: ‘Metro makes a huge contribution to North East England’s environment and economy, and we have been supported by local businesses, our residents and our politicians in our plans for new rolling stock.'
The successful bidder will be asked to design, build and maintain fleet and maintenance facilities that will serve Metro over the next 35 years, including building and running a new depot at the existing site in Gosforth, Newcastle.
The contract notice gives the estimated value of the work as up to £500m.
Nexus said that since the Government pledged the funding a detailed specification has been finalised by taking account of consultation with more than 3,000 Metro passengers in 2016 and 2017, followed by market engagement with train builders to refine the plans.
Metro carries over 36 million passengers a year on a network connecting Newcastle and Sunderland and surrounding communities.