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52 New Trains Manufactured

New state-of-the-art trains will be introduced by 2020

New state-of-the-art trains will be introduced to the Merseyrail network by 2020 replacing the current fleet which is approaching 40 years old. The trains will be owned locally, and publically, with the £460 million project managed by Merseytravel on behalf of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority. 

Built and maintained by Swiss manufacturer, Stadler, the trains will be modern, safe, fast and comfortable. The new trains will be able to carry more people, more quickly, helping support the growth of the City Region and with the potential to run on an extended network to places like Wrexham, Skelmersdale and Warrington.

Designs have been provided by Stadler, the preferred supplier of the new trains appointed by Merseytravel. 

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The trains will be safer than the ones they replace in a whole host of ways, most notably through a sliding step that will allow level boarding at each doorway, so people won’t have to ‘mind the gap’.

The network will remain one of the most generously staffed in the UK, with around 100 staff who will work onboard the trains, including new customer service staff as well as existing security people, British Transport Police, cleaners and revenue protection officers. 

The trains will no longer require guards to open and close the doors – this will be the responsibility of the driver, as it is on lots of other networks in the UK and abroad such as the Tyne and Wear Metro and the London Underground. However, all permanent guards and guards’ managers who wish to stay at Merseyrail will be offered alternative employment within the business, on the same terms and conditions as now.

The trains will have lower floors, only 960 mm above rail level, and will be entirely walk-through, increasing their capacity to 486 people (182 seated, 302 standing, and two wheelchair users). Strong but lightweight carriages, built from aluminium extrusions, mean they will be safer and more energy efficient.

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The 64.98 metres long and 2.82 metres wide trains will operate on a 750V DC third rail network with a maximum speed of 75 mph (120 km/h). The units will also be equipped with batteries that allow independent movement of the units in the workshop and depot areas. The trains will be able to be retrofitted for 25 kV AC operation and ETCS Level II.

Transforming safety

The new vehicles have been designed for the specific needs of customers travelling on the Merseyrail network, with many features reflecting what people said they wanted in research done by passenger watchdog, Transport Focus, in 2013.

Providing a new level of safety, intelligent sliding steps, combined with infrastructure improvements, will virtually eliminate the gap between the platform and the train, providing step-free access at all entrances. With no ‘gap to mind’, the new fleet will be highly accessible for all, from wheelchair users and the elderly to cyclists and passengers with luggage. Sensitive door sensors will detect obstructions, while door illuminations will inform passengers when it is safe to embark and alight.

Onboard safety will be enhanced by open and airy compartments with no dividing doors, as well as CCTV and a transparent cabin for the driver. The trains will have wider aisles, larger vestibules at the doorways, more grab handles, making the train safer to use for standing passengers too.

All the interior fittings will be damage resistant and the exterior will be graffiti and spray paint resistant. The driver’s cab offers a comfortable working environment with enhanced sight lines, an ergonomic desk arrangement and all of the functionality required for flexible, modern trains.

Transforming Stadler’s presence in the UK

Through the maintenance contract, Stadler will undertake light and heavy maintenance of the units throughout their 35-year life cycle. Ensuring the highest possible availability of trains and the most efficient maintenance turnaround, Stadler will design, construct and operate a brand new, state of the art depot at Kirkdale. Stadler will also oversee the maintenance of the existing fleet, which will be carried out at the current facility in Birkenhead.

Stadler will transfer 155 maintenance workers from Merseyrail into its own operations, bringing the total number of Stadler employees in the UK to over 200 people by 2019.

Peter Jenelten, Executive Vice President and Head of Marketing & Sales of Stadler said: “This contract with Merseytravel marks a very important milestone for Stadler in the UK. It will bring safer, more comfortable trains that can carry more people and will help provide the Liverpool City Region with the metro service it deserves.

“The UK is a key part of our global strategy and this contract represents the latest step in our growth here. We have recently been successful in several high-profile tenders, including the provision of 58 multiple units for the East Anglia franchise and the delivery of 17 metro trains for the Glasgow Subway, and we now look forward to working with Merseytravel to deliver its new trains on schedule.”

Frank Rogers, Chief Executive of Merseytravel said: “We are very much looking forward to working with Stadler.  The fleet of new trains will provide the foundations of our City Region’s long-term rail strategy and we anticipate our relationship with Stadler developing into a strong, enduring partnership.  Merseyrail is already high performing network and these trains, designed with local people in mind, will help support that for decades to come.  The new trains will be safer and able to carry more people, more quickly and, when combined with infrastructure improvements, the new fleet will make Merseyrail the most accessible traditional network in the UK.”

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