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Merseytravel seeks approval for £400m rail upgrade and new fleet

Merseytravel has put forward plans to the Merseytravel Committee to invest £400m to improve the local network and replace one of the oldest fleets now running on National Rail. 

The current fleet of 59 three-car Class 507/508 EMUs is nearly 40 years old and needs replacement, and Merseytravel says “a new set of trains from the early 2020s is considered the best option to support the delivery of the City Region’s Long Term Rail Strategy (LTRS)”. 

It added that introducing a new fleet could build on current high-levels of performance and customer satisfaction, which are proving increasingly challenging and costly as the existing fleet ages – especially as a further 40% increase in passenger numbers is expected by 2028. 

The £400m programme of investment, which has been developed over recent months, also includes significant investment in infrastructure such as depots and power supplies. 

Merseytravel added that, in approving the LTRS, Combined Authority leaders have already acknowledged the need for a new fleet within the next 30 years in order to deliver aspirations of Merseyrail services to places such as Warrington and Crewe. 

David Brown, CEO of Merseytravel, said: “Doing nothing is not an option. The fleet is amongst the oldest in the UK and we want to ensure that we’re geared up to maintain the high standards people have come to expect from Merseyrail, as well as ensuring the fleet can cope with a significant increase in passenger numbers. 

“This is not just about new trains, but what they will enable us to do. They will help us improve links within and beyond the city region, supporting our own ambitions and those of the wider ‘Northern Powerhouse’ agenda, as well as benefitting us in very real economic terms, stimulating the creation of jobs and contributing millions of pounds every year to the Liverpool City Region economy.” 

The Merseytravel Committee will take a decision at its meeting on 1 October as to whether to approve the commencement of the procurement process for new trains. If agreed, an OJEU notice, which invites bidders to submit their plans will then be published. 

Should approval to proceed be given, it is expected that a preferred bidder would be identified in around 12 months’ time, with city region leaders then asked to approve the project going ahead. 

Rail union RMT said that a new generation of Merseyrail trains will be welcomed by all – but they must have guards on board to maintain safety and security. It added that it is seeking urgent meetings with Merseytravel and the region’s Combined Authority to demand an input in the commissioning of new rolling stock. 


Andrew Gwilt   04/09/2015 at 17:29

The Merseyrail's Class 507 & Class 508 3-car 3rd rail EMU trains are getting old and Merseyrail are willing to ask either Siemens, Bombardier or Hitachi to build new trains and the Class 507 & Class 508 trains that were built by BREL in the 60's are soon to be scrapped with the new trains to be in order in 2019/2020 for Merseyrail. The 3 manufactures are in talks on who will win the contract to build new trains for Merseyrail in 2020-onwards.

Lutz   05/09/2015 at 14:35

If the vehicles are to be dual mode, there will no-longer be any need for a franchise for the Merseyside area, separate from the Northern franchise.

Mikeb   05/09/2015 at 15:50

@Lutz. Indeed, if dual voltage trains are ordered, Merseyrail could be absorbed into the Northern franchise. Alternatively, the Merseyrail franchise area could be extended to, say, Warrington Central (with overhead electrification from Liverpool South Parkway) or even to St. Helens Central via a reopened Wapping Tunnel from Liverpool Central to Edge Hill.

Moomo   06/09/2015 at 22:16

Merseyrail is run by Merseytravel who also own the track and who receive subsidies from Merseyside taxpayers, not least from the Mersey tunnel tolls. Northern Rail is in no position to take over the franchise.

Lee   08/09/2015 at 11:43

I think there's a strong argument for running the Merseyrail electric franchise separately. It's akin to a Liverpool metro system rather than a conventional railway, it's entirely self-contained due to the electrification system used, and it can be effectively integrated into other forms of transport and ticketing if managed appropriately. It's best run along similar lines to London Overground which is hugely effective in transforming previously rather grotty and underutilised lines.

Mark P   22/09/2015 at 22:25

Sadly whenever Liverpool is mentioned there is a core of those who just want to see the city in the dumps. Of course Merseyrail should be run separately and concentrate on service Liverpool well. No one would suggest absorbing Metrolink into Northern Rail. It's just as silly.

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