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Merseytravel names five international bidders in new fleet and depot shortlist

Five of the biggest names in the rail industry have been shortlisted in the race to win Merseyrail’s rolling stock deal to replace the 59 three-car Class 507/508 EMUs currently running on its network.

Canada’s Bombardier, Germany’s Siemens, Switzerland’s Stadler, Spain’s CAF and Japan’s Mitsui have all been selected to go through to the next stage of procurement after the initial tender process was kicked off in October.

Bidders were assessed in areas such as their capacity to deliver the work, their expertise and track record. In the next stage, they will make submissions specific to the details of the Merseyrail scheme.

The scheme is intended to replace one of the oldest fleets still running in the country. Merseytravel expects to need a new fleet of 50 units, each 60m long, but it is up to the bidders to specify what they intend to provide.

The project was initially estimated to cost £700m, but Merseytravel has now said it will come to about £400m, including major infrastructure improvements at stations and depots and major reinforcement of the power supply to the network.

All costs will be recovered over the operational life of the new fleet by leasing them to the commercial operator responsible for the Merseyrail network, which is currently Merseyrail Electrics. The initial investment will dig into a variety of funding mechanisms, including a rail reserve already established for this purpose.

Cllr Liam Robinson, Merseytravel chair, said: “All of our five candidates have extensive experience of providing trains, maintenance services and depots.  They all have a strong international pedigree as well as a good track record here in the UK.

“Now we want the bidders to use their expertise to help shape our vision, demonstrating innovation and a real understanding of the importance of the network to the Liverpool City Region. A new fleet, and the associated works, is essential for providing services that people and business can rely on, as well as being a stimulus for further economic growth.”

As part of the process, Robinson said the company will be interested in how bidders could tap into the local labour market and make the most of UK-based opportunities.

The tender documents are expected to be released on 22 January, with bids due back by the end of April. It is expected that the winner will be announced towards the end of the year, likely in November. At this point, city-region leaders through their combined authority will be asked to commit to the project going ahead.

But the region already considers new trains by 2020 the best option to meet growing demand on the network and supporting the city’s ambitions, particularly at a time of devolution.

The decision follows a detailed business case developed over many months, which analysed all options from refurbished rolling stock to new stock now or in the future.

The current fleet running across the network is almost 40 years old, meaning it is close to the end of its operational life. Achieving high levels of performance and customer satisfaction will become increasingly more challenging and costly as the fleet continues to age.

New trains with improved capacity and shorter journey times are also vital to meet the city’s growing demand, given that parts of its network are already close to capacity at peak times.

And a new fleet is considered the best option to support the city-region’s Long Term Rail Strategy, which includes the potential for an extended network within the next 30 years to places such as Warrington and Crewe.


Andrew Gwilt   12/01/2016 at 14:31

As Siemens, Bombardier, CAF, Stadler and Mitsui who are preffered bidders to build new trains as well Hitachi could also be interested in building new trains for Merseyrail to replace the Class 507 & Class 508 trains that are due to be scrapped if either those bidders do win the contract then the new trains should be in service at around 2020-2021.

Mikeyb   12/01/2016 at 20:16

Andrew. As Hitachi's name does not appear amongst the five companies shortlisted, it would appear that they decided not to submit a bid for this tender..

Lutz   12/01/2016 at 23:36

50 units, replacing 59 to increase capacity? At one point Merseyrail was trying to get hold of an additional 8 units to meet demand. Are a number of the existing units laid-up? Are they planning to retain some of the existing units in service, to replace them at a later date? If not, how do the numbers add up?

Hgz   14/01/2016 at 23:43

An article in the Liverpool Echo last year said they were ordering 50 trains with an option for another 50. I'm guessing these would be taken on if they expand the network. They've mentioned them being dual voltage so I guess Liverpool to Wrexham is something they have in mind. They certainly run less 6 car services in rush hour so they can't be using all the stock. I read rumours they were trying to run the current stock less to keep the operating hours down, given their age.

Lachlan   18/01/2016 at 16:10

That's my local network so there's something to look forward to. There are some extensions to the network which would make sense, Kirkby-Wigan Wallgate & Ormskirk-Preston are just two.

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