Merseyrail train

Battery powered trains could extend Merseyrail network

The testing of a new battery powered train in the Liverpool City Region has been successful. A big step in the right direction in creating a ‘Merseyrail for All”, a commitment to connecting under-served communities to the Merseyrail network.

The technology could potentially mean extending Merseyrail’s network across all six city region boroughs, to places such as Rainhill in St Helens, Woodchurch on the Wirral, and Widnes in Halton. The new fleet could also operate as far as Skelmersdale, Wrexham, Warrington and Runcorn.

During the 4-week trials, the units successfully passed all tests. The Transforming Cities fund financed the battery trials, and one of the new class 777 trains fitted with the battery technology was tested on the Northern line.

The trains are considered greener, using 30% less energy than the existing fleet. In the meantime, they are set to run on services to a brand-new station planned at Headbolt Lane, Kirkby.

But the wider programme will mean every community is being catered for, through an integrated public transport network, and new refurbished train stations are also high on the agenda.

Stations will include

  • The Baltic Triangle in Liverpool
  • Carr Mill in St Helens
  • Woodchurch on the Wirral

Tram-Train technology and trackless trams will also be reviewed and could potentially mean extending the Merseyrail network into hard-to-reach areas, such as Liverpool John Lennon Airport and Speke, Kirkby Town Centre, Southport Town Centre, Wirral Waters and the Knowledge Quarter.

Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, Steve Rotheram, said

 “For people in some parts of our region, Liverpool can feel as far away as London. I want to change that. Merseyrail for All is my ambitious plan to extend the current network, so it reaches communities right across our city region and beyond.”

“We know that our new publicly owned trains will revolutionise transport in our region but, after these battery trials, they’re going to help take it to another level entirely and ensure no community will be left behind.

He added, “Good public transport is vital for connecting people with each other and opportunity. Our region deserves what London has had for years: a transport system that is affordable, reliable and easy for people to get about. I’m working to build one and these trains are a massive part of that.”

The new trains mean the city region will be paving the way for the decarbonisation of the rail network, supporting the Metro Mayor’s ‘net zero carbon by 2040’ plans.

The trains travelled up to 20 miles per run without the need for re-charging, exceeding expectations. Battery trains could remove the need for the third ‘electric’ rail, allowing trains to travel further than the existing network, without the need for major track investment.

The full impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the programme is still being evaluated by the Combined Authority and its partners, and more information surrounding the roll out will be released as soon as it has been agreed.

Main Image Credit: Office of Rail and Road (@ORR)



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