A night time overhead shot of the Gosforth Depot

Gosforth depot

VolkerFitzpatrick was appointed by Stadler, the Swiss engineering company, to build a brand-new depot at Gosforth in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, to replace the 100-year-old facility. The £70 million depot is designed to accommodate 46 new state-of-the-art trains for the Tyne and Wear Metro, which Stadler is manufacturing for Nexus. Construction started in 2021 and completed in early 2024. The new Class 555 METRO trains are set to be introduced into passenger service from the end of 2023.

The new depot

The new 12-acre state-of-the-art depot has been designed to a high specification to ensure the availability and reliability of the fleet for decades to come. The depot can host a range of activities, including preventative and corrective maintenance and train presentation. It features four inspection roads and pits, a separate wheel lathe building and a wash-plant to clean train exteriors. There is a storage area for spare parts and materials, as well as spacious office facilities for training and support functions. Making best use of natural light, the building provides an attractive environment for employees.

Other features include a component drop to enhance maintenance efficiency, monorail cranes on both light maintenance roads and an overhead crane on the heavy maintenance roads for lifting roof components. A room dedicated to managing train movements digitally has been strategically positioned to have a bird’s eye view of the depot, to heighten safety and security.

The depot building itself has been specifically designed without overhead power lines, making it much safer than the old depot. A state-of-the-art depot protection system has been installed to ensure full control of train movements and to keep people safe.

The process

Learn about how we took collaborative strides to make this project a success, how the build had an environmental focus, and how the team adapted to global and local challenges. 

Collaborative efforts

It was critical that the Metro service continued to run without disruption. As such, the project was designed in five stages, with each approached as a project in its own right.

Modern project management practices were used, and our team worked closely with the operational teams to ensure an awareness and understanding of each other’s activities. By communicating clearly, the project kept moving while still meeting the needs of the various stakeholders and minimising disruption to the local neighbourhood.

Environmental focus

The building has been designed to keep the carbon footprint as low as possible. By redeveloping the existing site, it was possible to avoid using a greenfield location, while also ensuring that a brownfield site was not left over. The structure of the old building was crushed in-situ and the material was reused for the new tracks and foundations. This helped maintain air quality and kept lorries off the roads.

Solar panels fitted on the roof and premium insulation were specified to reduce energy consumption and keep heating to a minimum. Water will be recycled on site and rainwater will be harvested and used for train washing facilities and toilets. There is a dedicated, secure area for bikes, as well as charging bays for electric cars.

Project challenges

The project was delivered against a backdrop of Covid, Brexit and the war in Ukraine, all of which have caused global upheaval and seen dramatic price inflation, as well as delivery delays across the sector. The project also experienced freak weather events (storms) and other pressures to the Metro service from exceptionally busy events programmes.

Despite these potential setbacks, the project is set to complete as planned in February 2024. Furthermore, it has an overspend of under five percent on the £70 million allocated. To successfully complete a project as ambitious as this one within such tight parameters has required a huge amount of effort and collaborative working

Community benefits

Discover how our team integrated into the community and created a lasting legacy. 

Working with local businesses

The original site was redeveloped to ensure investment and commercial opportunities benefitted the local communities. Local contractors, tradespeople, suppliers, and haulage firms have been involved, ensuring that as much of the money allocated to the project stayed within the community.

Community engagement app

The Gosforth depot team took a keen interest in the community. With a community engagement app, the team were able to keep residents updated on the development of the depot and it enabled live two-way communications. They also issued updates in person and by email.

Supporting educational establishments

VolkerFitzpatrick welcomed schools and communities to visit the site on multiple occasions. The activities helped demonstrate to students the breadth of jobs available in construction from engineering and surveying to site administration and health and safety roles.

Fundraising for local causes

Fundraising was integral to the VolkerFitzpatrick team with both central campaigns for Save the Children and activities that supported local charities, national health campaigns and international needs.

The VolkerFitzpatrick central campaign for Save the Children raised over £50,000. The team supported Denis Cormican from PLS Civil Engineering Ltd, a subcontractor at Gosforth Depot, to fundraise and run an impressive seven marathons in seven continents in seven days, by taking part in the World Marathon Challenge (WMC).

The team on site individually raised approximately £1,600 to support local charities such as the Great North Air ambulance, Daft as a Brush cancer charity, Macmillan Cancer Support and Movember. The team also collected two large collections of food for Feeding Families and sent family essentials to Ukraine’s diaster appeal. Furthermore, the Gosforth Depot project also donated 20 tons of used track equipment to the Tanfield Railway, which has a history that can be traced back to 1725.

After three years of hard work, the new facility is now an asset to the local area and one that local residents and the wider community can be proud of. It has been built to a very high standard, with quality and precision at its heart, and its technologically sophisticated features will mean that trains can be maintained efficiently and speedily. This promotes an efficient, smooth-running railway for the benefit of passengers, supporting regional jobs and growth and helping the north east to flourish.

Paul Patrick, Managing Director, Stadler Rail Service UK