Contract out for £400m Merseyrail fleet

Members of the Merseytravel committee have approved plans to replace the ageing Merseyrail fleet, and have launched the search for a company to bring forward the design, construction, delivery and ongoing maintenance of 50 new trains.

The project will include major infrastructure improvements at stations and depots, and to the power supply to the network.

Merseytravel will hold an industry day at the beginning of December for potential applicants. It is expected that a preferred bidder will be identified towards the end of 2016 and it will be at this point that city region leaders, through the Combined Authority, will be asked to commit to the project going ahead.

The Merseyrail network is made up of 66 stations along 75 route miles of network, and carries around 34m passengers each year.

New trains by the early 2020s are considered the best option in meeting growing demand on the network and in supporting the city region’s economic ambitions, while also presenting the best value for the public purse.

It follows the development of a detailed business case over many months which looked at all options from refurbished stock to new stock now or in the future.

The current fleet is approaching 40 years old, is amongst the oldest in the UK and is close to the end of its operational life.

New trains that can carry more people and with shorter journey times will help meet growing demand on the network, of which parts are already close to capacity at peak times.

According to Merseytravel, demand is increasing by 2.5% each year, with an overall 40% increase in passenger numbers expected by 2028. Some parts of the Merseyrail network are predicted to be way over capacity, 160% filled, by 2043.

A new set of trains is also considered the best option to support the delivery of the city region’s long term rail strategy by providing a fleet that could carry significantly more passengers and run on a potentially extended network within the next 30 years to places such as Warrington and Crewe.

The plans have been developed to ensure that there will be no additional costs to local tax payers, with costs recovered over the operational life of the new trains by leasing them to the commercial operator responsible for the Merseyrail network, currently Merseyrail Electrics. Merseytravel’s initial investment will use a variety of funding mechanisms, including a rail reserve already established for this purpose.

Cllr Liam Robinson, chairman of Merseytravel, said: “Giving the procurement process the green light to proceed is a decision taken both out of practicality and ambition for the Merseyrail network, the people who use it and the city region economy. We can’t stand still.

“Now it’s up to the bidders to help shape our vision. This isn’t about new trains because we simply want a new train set, it’s because we recognise that a new fleet, and the associated works, is essential for providing services that people and business can rely on, as well as being stimulus for further economic growth.”

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Merseyrail’s underground stations in Liverpool and Birkenhead provide a metropolitan service around the inner area and to suburbs and cities such as Chester. It is efficient and excellent value but is crying out for investment. The potential for the future is enormous and could spearhead economic growth. The network should be extended also to Deeside, Wrexham and Skelmersdale as a priority. And expand the underground service around the City through the disused tunnels and stations!

By Paul Blackburn (Chester)

I completely agree with you Paul .. the potential for Liverpool, chester and other suburbs there .. and glad its finally moving forward..

By Matt

Yes, it’s a great start Matt.

By Paul Blackburn (Chester)

Merseyrail is already the most heavily subsidised and least profitable rail franchise in the country. I doubt there is any case to extend the network further.

By Rail

Says “the rail”
incorrect .
It’s happening ….

By Matt

Not sure where The Rail gets their sources from. Merseyrail consistently performs in the top 10 for customer satiesfaction and reliability. I agree with other comments about Skelmersdale and Deeside though too….. investment which will bring massive benefits.

By Craig

Would be helpful to clarify if the new trains are to be electric (most likely if new not 2nd hand), diesel (like the one pictured) or a mixture?

By Observer

Craig – I didn’t mention anything about customer satisfaction or reliability. My point was about how heavily subsidised it is. In light of that I can’t see how you can make a case to extend the network without making it an even greater drain on the taxpayer.

By Rail

They will be electric – they are not going to suddenly abandon the third rail, particularly given that the loop is underground so diesel fumes would be a no-no. The one pictured IS electric…

By Steve

I wish ‘people’ like ‘the rail’ would have the courage to reveal their identity when they make such factually incorrect and misleading comments. Merseyrail has been one of the UK’s star performers for many years.

By Paul Blackburn (Chester)

I am a Londoner but remember these trains when they were running down here. They were transferred to Merseyrail about 30 years ago, so were second hand when you got them. Good that you are getting new trains for once, and hope the service can be extended as planned.

By Philip Blow

I still believe that Transport investment is provided for political reasons in general.Expect massive investment in Gt Manchester’s Metrolink in the next decade,between Central Manchester and Stockport,since Cheadle and Hazel Grove were won by the Tories in May.

By Elephant

yes agree Paul. I think this is excellent idea. Can’t say any more than that!

By Bob Dawson

We need Merseytram and better links to the Airport.

By Prestatyn

Liverpool airport can easily be served by Merseyrail – a very short extension from the junctions around Garston (Southparkway) is all that’s required. It’ll get prioritised at some point, it’s only a matter of time.

By Paul Blackburn (Chester)

Paul, and then what? Emirates and British Airways will suddenly start using Liverpool airport? I think not. its fuzzy thinking to suggest a rail link to Liverpool Airport will have a really positive effect.

By mancboi

Paul. What precisely is misleading about my post? Merseyrail may have a good reputation for its customer service but it is the most heavily subsidised and least profitable rail franchise.

By Rail