Newcastle-upon-Tyne transport authority Nexus launched public consultation last November on the renewal of the train fleet, which is a core component of the £1bn Metro and Local Rail Strategy approved by the leadership board of the North East Combined Authority in July 2016.
Nexus submitted a detailed business case for the fleet renewal programme to the Department of Transport at the end of last year.
The new trains will replace the fleet of 84 two-car trains built by Metro-Cammell in 1975-81. The fleet was refurbished by Wabtec between 2010 and 2015 at a cost of £30m with the aim of extending its service life until 2025.
Nexus plans to issue an invitation to tender in January with the aim of awarding the contract by February 2020. The first trains are expected to enter service at the end of 2021.