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A state-of-the-art simulator will offer Metro drivers a fully immersive training experience as they countdown to the new trains arriving.
The fully sized replica of the new Metro train cab has been installed at the Nexus Learning Centre in South Shields. It uses CGI to give a realistic and interactive train diving experience.
The simulator, which has been provided by Stadler, will be used for essential training and familiarisation ahead of the first new Metro train arriving in North East England at the end of the year.
Nexus, the public body which owns and manages Metro, said the multi-million pound technology heralded the start of a new era for the Metro driver training programme.
The Metro network and all 60 stations have been programmed in, appearing on high-resolution screens in front of the driver, as if they were looking out of the actual windscreen.
All weather conditions and potential situations from snow and high winds to cows on the line can be thrown at the driver at the touch of a button.
Head of Fleet and Depot Replacement Programme at Nexus, Michael Richardson, said: “The new simulator will be vital for getting our drivers ready for their new Metro trains. It’s a really exciting time for them to be able to use this amazing new technology.
“This really does mark the start of a new era in how we can train our Metro drivers and it will be in use for many years to come. We are grateful to Stadler for supplying us with such a fantastic and immersive driver training aid. We’ve never had anything like this before.
“The simulator allows the drivers to get ready for making the switch, because the new trains are much more hi-tech than the current fleet. It provides an opportunity to get used to all the various functions and features on the new trains before the drivers get the chance to drive them for real in 2023.
“The new Metro fleet is going to transform the Tyne and Wear Metro for customers and for the staff, delivering a step-change in quality, comfort and reliability.
“We are just a few months away from a really exciting moment when we see the first new train arrive in the region. By getting a simulator in place we are ensuring that we are ready to make a seamless transition to this modern new Metro fleet.”
Marc Robson, regional fleet manager at Stadler, added: “We are delighted to have delivered this highly sophisticated piece of equipment to Nexus. It will be instrumental to the successful delivery of the Metro driver training programme, enabling drivers to familiarise themselves with the new trains we’re currently building and promoting the smooth transition from the old to the new fleet.
“The simulator is yet another example of our focus on innovation, design technology, efficiency and precision, qualities that Stadler prides itself on and which characterise our wide portfolio of rail products and services.”
Craig Pearson is one of the 174 drivers employed by Nexus who will be one of the first to drive the new trains. Craig, who is one of the driver specialists for the Metro Futures project, has played a key role in helping his colleagues get ready for the new trains.
He said: “The new simulator is amazing. It is already providing us with a real feel of what the new trains are capable of and at this stage in the project is assisting us in our preparations for the first train arriving in November.
“The level of detail is fantastic and is each route is easily identifiable. It is better than the expectations we had for it. It will be an integral part of our driver’s conversion training between old and new fleets and provide a great tool in the future, being able to replicate most, if not all real-life situations that could arise, in the comfort of the simulator. Early feedback from drivers has been very positive.”
The Nexus Learning and Development team will use the simulator to lead a full schedule of training sessions for Metro drivers to get them ready for driving the real Stadler trains.
The simulator enables drivers to learn how to use the new trains’ hi-tech functions, including a Train Control Management System – the “brain” of the train which allows the driver to interact with the train’s systems for the most efficient performance, and to improve on safety features.
Drivers can familiarise themselves with new technical features in the cab including all of the new control features, gauges, switches and master controller which are used whilst driving, as well as the comfortable new seating position, and safety and security features, including new CCTV technology.
The first new Metro train is in final assembly and will arrive in North East England in November for testing and further training ahead of entering customer service in mid-2023.
Stadler, the Swiss train builder, are supplying Nexus with 46 new trains for Metro, along with a new £70m maintenance depot.
The new Metro trains, which will be 15 times more reliable and will cut energy consumption by 30 per cent, will have modern features including charging points, air conditioning and a step-change in accessibility. Among the new features will be an automatic sliding step at every door of the new trains, making travel easier for Metro’s 50,000 wheelchair passengers as well as people with push-chairs, luggage or bicycles.
The Metro driver simulator was made by specialist simulator manufacturer called CORYS in Grenoble in the South East of France. The company has been supplying training and engineering simulators for more than 30 years to the transportation, power, process industries using engineering grade modelling tools, virtual environments and control room replica and/or emulations.
Find out more about the new Metro fleet at www.nexus.org.uk/newmetrotrains