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Size of UK rail fleet may need to double in next 30 years

The industry’s rolling stock strategy has been updated, highlighting again just how many trains are needed over the coming years – an average of between eight and 12 needing to be delivered every week for the next 30 years.

The second Long Term Passenger Rolling Stock Strategy for the Rail Industry, a year on from the first, has been welcomed by rail minister Stephen Hammond. It was produced through cross-industry collaboration by rolling stock owners, operator owning groups and Network Rail

Its key messages are:

• Based on future passenger demand an increase in the size of the fleet of between 53% and 99% will be required over the next 30 years

• The proportion of vehicles using electric traction will rise from 69% today to over 90% in 30 years’ time

• Between 13,000 and 19,000 new electric vehicles will be required over the period, with an average of between eight and 12 needing to be delivered every week

• Around 3,050 new electric vehicles will need to be delivered by April 2019, with just 20% or 600 still to be ordered

• The average build rate of 12 vehicles per week that this represents contrasts with an average of just four per week in the five years to April 2014 

It suggests that a commitment to a further electrification programme during CP6 2019-2024 “could help drive value for money in the sector by increasing confidence among investors and the supply chain”.

But it adds: “This analysis illustrates that a completely steady new build programme for rolling stock is unlikely ever to occur. Further peaks in demand for new build vehicles will occur as a direct consequence of refranchising timescales, where decisions to procure new rolling stock will, in many cases, be triggered by franchise award. Nevertheless, the forward projections of rolling stock fleet sizes offered by the RSS, combined with an early commitment to a continuing programme of electrification, should provide a greater degree of predictability about orders for new electric vehicles beyond CP5. This can help manufacturers to optimise production capacity and associated costs.”

The authors want TOCs and ROSCOs to lead the process, not the DfT.

Richard Brown, chairman of the Rolling Stock Strategy Steering Group, said: “The growth in demand for rail travel is set to continue and meeting it with the most suitable and cost efficient rolling stock is vital to maximising the railway’s benefits to our economy, local communities and the environment. The updated rolling stock strategy sets out future potential demand but also poses important challenges for the industry.

“Working with government and Network Rail, train operators and leasing companies are in the best position to ensure that a whole-life, whole-system approach is adopted to rolling stock. With billions of pounds set to be invested in the rail industry over the coming years, this will ensure that value for money and benefits for passengers are maximised.”

The document also reveals some slippage in delivery timetables, not all of which have been publicly announced:

• Completion of deliveries of the Crossrail fleet will occur in the early months of CP6 because full implementation of the Crossrail timetable will not occur until December 2019.

• The East Coast phase 2 IEP trains will be delivered in the first year of CP6.

• Full implementation of electrification of the MML is now proposed by Network Rail for December 2020.

A full analysis of the updated rolling stock strategy will be available in the print edition of RTM.

(Library image: Alvey& Towers)

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email [email protected]


Jfgb   28/02/2014 at 12:05

Time for the DfT to encourage the UK rolling stock building industry to gear up for its manufacture and supply then - with a guarantee of new orders!

Joel Kosminsky   28/02/2014 at 12:51

The analysis proves that privatised railways has destroyed our domestic and therefore export market in train-build. When demand for new trains is determined by pieces of paper rather than national strategy, this is the tail wagging the dog, putting up the prices of trains, reducing our skills base and destroying our overseas markets and foreign income. How come no-one else operates this madness? Maybe British Rail wasn't perfect but it cost less, delivered better trains and kept a national infrastructure going. BR fell down because governments of all persuasions were too myopic to see what infrastructure does for the national economy. What we have now is unsustainable and must change to serve the public need, not private greed.

Nonsuchmike   28/02/2014 at 12:55

Throughout the country from north to south we desperately need more units that can run electrically and with a diesel mode. We needed them yesterday. In future as the text suggests there will be an increasing need for electrical units and electrification of lines. Even with longer more frequent trains on the existing network, we cannot hide the fact that there must be dualling of more sections of track, more interconnectable links like the Halton curve etc, otherwise all else falls short on the safety limit of existing infrastructure.

Ricp   02/03/2014 at 05:23

If this estimate for the number of additional vehicles is right it takes us back about 60 years to the early years of the Modernisation Plan and the end of steam. The problem is that since then, BR and its sucessors have been forced to sell off various parcels of land that once accommodated carriage sidings, so the next interesting question that will have to be looked at is where do we put these extra trains, and maintain them. The depots have been sold off too! And as mentioned many times, with only Derby as our classic production unit, and Newton Aycliffe a kit assemby factory for Japanese products, someone needs to have faith and re-establish a production facility here. It's a pity Alstom did not have faith to retain the excellent facility at Washwood Heath, ie Metro Cammell, which until Alstom took over made trains like Siemens, they worked out of the box, from 101s to 156s, EMUs to Tube stock, they did the lot. Thanks to the Government, this producer was starved of business, and Alstom walked away.

Jfgb   13/03/2014 at 22:13

Well then, which organisation is going to pressure the govt., to prepare our national rolling stock and traction supply industries for the coming demand? For a country which gave railways to the world and supplied thousands of rolling stock units subsequently, it is a national disgrace if the govt., is content to sit back and rely on foreign imports to meet this demand. We are encouraging students and apprentices to take up railway engineering but if UK manufacturing does not recover they may only be able to aspire to operating and maintaining foreign designs. With regard to site requirements, if the need is there we must re-establish adequate facilities. The govt., appears to believe it can overcome such difficulties in connection with the proposed HS2 if its built so proving where there's a will there's a way. Let's just see the proof of the will!

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