A group of schoolchildren and adults from the North East Autism Society got the chance to visit one of the Metro's brand new trains before they go into service later this year.

Nexus, the public body which runs Metro, hosted the event for autistic children, adults and other disabled groups so they could get on board a train from the new £362m fleet at its learning centre in South Shields.

There they could see its new features including special lights around the doors, digital screens that indicate how busy each carriage is, linear seating layout, charging points, automatic sliding steps, and increased space for wheelchairs, buggies and bikes.

Children from NEAS's Thornhill Park School in Sunderland also got to sit in the futuristic drivers' cab and sound out the horn!

One of the visitors was Sean Watson, whose personal piece about the Metro was shared by Nexus on their social media earlier this year. He had been wary of the new Tube-style seating but said the visit had helped put his mind at rest about them.

Nexus consulted with 23,000 customers over the design of the new fleet, and this was the final series of special visits before the first new trains get tested on the Metro network. South Tyneside College, deaf organisation Becoming Visible, visually impaired groups from North East Action on Transport and VIEWS, and the Percy Hedley School also attended the visits.

Stadler, a Swiss train manufacturer, is building a total of 46 new Metro trains which will go into service in phases over the next two years.

Michael Richardson, head of fleet and depot replacement at Nexus, said: "Events like this are vital for us, and for people with a range of different disabilities, to get used to the new trains ahead of them going into service.

"Our new trains have been specifically designed using customer feedback and with accessibility in mind."