After delays to its training programme caused by Covid-19, the Tyne and Wear Metro is to embark on its biggest-ever driver training school. Nexus, the public body which owns and manages Metro, is taking on 30 new drivers during September and October – the largest single school since Metro began operations in 1980.
National assessment centres that could put candidates through the required aptitude tests had to be closed during the pandemic, so training across the UK rail industry had been unable to take place during lockdown.
Metro operations director Chris Carson said: “This is the biggest ever intake of trainee drivers in Metro’s 40 years of operations. We’re really looking forward to getting this up and running after the major setback that lockdown created for our training programme.
“We need to train more drivers and we have been unable to do that for six months. This has had a knock-on effect for our customers, with trains sometimes being cancelled as a result even though we do all we can to avoid this.
“When these latest driver schools are completed by next spring we will be back to where we need to be in terms of train crew numbers.
“Our new trainees have had a long wait to get started, which can’t have been easy for them. I wish them well as they start the process of learning how to drive a Metro train on the network, which is part of everyday life for so many people in our region.”
The trainee Metro drivers were originally recruited last year but have been waiting since then for the opportunity to start their school. They will now undertake a six-month period of training and will be ready to go into service in March and April 2021.