Stadler will build new Merseyrail trains
Swiss-based Stadler has beaten off strong competition from Bombardier, Siemens, CAF and a Mitsui led consortium to clinch a £460m contract from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority to build and maintain 52 new four-car articulated trains.
The new trains will be owned by Merseytravel, Merseyrail’s franchising body, and should be in operation by the end of 2020. They will replace the existing class 507/508 units dating from the BR era , now nearly 40 years old.
The 52 sets will replace the existing fleet of 59 three-car units. At 65m, the new trains will be 3m longer but weigh six tonnes less at 99 tonnes. Passenger capacity will be increased from 303 to 486 per set (though the number of seats will remain the same). However there will be more space for cycles, prams, wheelchairs and luggage.
Better acceleration and braking will improve journey times. Provision for conversion to dual voltage operation to facilitate operation beyond the core Merseyrail network at some future stage has been built in.
Merseyrail will also carry out infrastructure upgrades to power supplies, platforms and tracks, and refurbish its two depots.
Merseyrail says the old trains are becoming increasingly costly to maintain, and they cannot accommodate rising passenger growth (at 2.5% per annum). Ownership is preferable to leasing as it saves finance charges, and the trains can be custom built to suit local requirements.
At present, control of Mersyrail train doors rests with the guard, but this will change when the new stock is introduced and DCO (driver controlled operation) is brought in. Merseyrail says this is the only way the project is affordable. Not all trains will have a second person on board; their presence will be ‘targeted at key times and locations’, but the move has already infuriated rail unions.