BAM Nuttall has started work on a major redevelopment of the Kirkdale depot that will house all maintenance work for the new fleet of Merseyrail trains, due to be introduced from 2020. Swiss firm Stadler Rail Services will be manufacturing and maintaining the new fleet.
The depot build project is set for completion in 2019, at a cost of £20m, and will include a maintenance facility for trains, a driving cab simulator and lecture theatre, and stabling capacity for 30 trains.
Birkenhead North’s depot will remain essential to operations, Merseytravel said, with detailed plans still being developed for the site.
The £460m overhaul of Merseyrail services was announced in December, and has become embroiled in controversy over the move to driver-controlled operations, with transport union RMT taking strike action over the removal of guards from services.
The combined value of the contracts for the depot and rolling stock amounts to £700m. The long-term intention is for the trains to service areas beyond Merseyrail’s traditional boundaries.
Thomas Zweifel, programme director and deputy chief executive UK for Stadler said: “The significant local investment and upskilling of the local workforce are strengthening the Merseyside industrial sector and will overall result in a positive economic impact. Stadler is excited to be involved in this project that will see new trains on the Merseyrail network in 2020.
Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde, Merseyrail’s managing director, added: “The start of the work is another step along the way to transform the Merseyrail network, moving us a stage closer to the introduction of new trains. We welcome this much needed upgrade, which will take the depot into the 21st century, equipped to maintain the trains to a very high standard.”
The trains will replace the existing fleet, which is almost 40 years old.