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Merseyrail in talks over brand new train fleet

Operator celebrates 10th birthday by revealing 'nothing is out of question'

Written by . Published on October 8th 2013.

Merseyrail in talks over brand new train fleet

MERSEYRAIL is in talks that could lead to a £400m spending spree on an entirely new fleet of bespoke trains, while massive station and travel improvements for passengers are in the pipeline.

The aim is to to have a thoroughly modern service up and running by 2018-2019, saying goodbye to the existing electric trains – the oldest still running anywhere in the UK.

Also on the table is electrification of Liverpool’s second line to Manchester – the one that goes through South Parkway and Widnes linking the Northern Line - and a half-hour service from the city to London.

Merseyrail %284%29Merseyrail bods celebrate
the 10th birthday
By the time they are replaced, Merseyrail's trains will be pushing 50 years of age. But to hide their wrinkles, the fleet is to undergo an immediate makeover, itself costing thousands of pounds.

Interior improvements are planned and they are to be smartened up on the outside with new coats of paint and new livery.

Details were revealed when a trackside celebration was held at Rock Ferry station to mark the 10th birthday of the current 25-year Merseyrail franchise.

Currently Merseyrail, part owned by the nationalised Dutch Railway system, operates the services using trains and carriages sub-leased from Merseytravel, who in turn lease them from Angel Trains, the company that owns the fleet.

Cllr Liam Robinson, chair of Merseytravel and former manager of Lime Street Station in his day job, said talks involving all the service's partners had already started about a replacement fleet.

Options include everything from using refurbished trains to an entirely new fleet, designed for running on the Merseyrail network.

Old, old

Cllr Robinson told Liverpool Confidential: “As the trains would have a working life of 40 to 50 years, a purpose built fleet is one of the options. Nothing is being ruled out.

“The one certainty is by the end of this decade the existing fleet will be reaching the end of its working life. The trains we use today continue to provide excellent service, largely due to an excellent maintenance staff. But even now they are the oldest trains in operation anywhere in the country.”

Merseyrail %283%29Commenting on the cost of the project, Cllr Robinson said: “Just one coach would cost a million pounds, and to replace the entire fleet with new coaches and driving units, coupled with the other changes we want, we could be looking at £400m.

“It is not just about new trains, it is about the whole experience for rail users, from getting to and from stations, to new ticketing arrangements, to improvements to the track.”

Moorfields station will be the next of the big stations on the network to undergo a major upgrade.

Merseyrail’s  Northern and Wirral Lines have 67 stations and 75 miles of track, less than seven miles of which are underground. Carrying over 100,000 passengers everyday, Merseyrail is one of the most heavily used railway networks in the UK outside London.

Meanwhile Cllr Robinson is also pushing for Liverpool’s second line to Manchester – the one that goes through South Parkway and Widnes – to be electrified, with the Department of Transport and Network Rail.

Next year, electric trains will operate for the first time on the Lime Street to Manchester line through Rainhill  (the original 1830 line, the world’s oldest inter-city passenger link).

He says Merseytravel is also pressing the Department of Transport, Network Rail and Virgin to introduce a 30-minute frequency between Liverpool and Euston, doubling the current service. 

Stats for train spotters

The last 10 years 

Merseyrail %282%29
Passenger numbers in 2003:
27m. 2013: 33m.

Performance Rating in 2003: 91.5 per cent.  2013: 95.5 per cent(consistently over 96 per cent). 

Passenger satisfaction in 2003: 82 per cent. Now 92 per cent. Merseyrail now among top three UK rail operators. 

Fleet reliability:  5,800 miles in July 2003. Now 10,100 miles. 

Train cleanliness pre-2003: 48 per cent. Now: 78per cent 


The next 10 years: 

Fleet enhancement (Merseyrail/Angel Trains funded)

Investment in new trains

Loopline refurbishment

Ticketing options

Increased focus and investment in end to end journey


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36 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousOctober 8th 2013.

Since we're doing "stats for trainspotters", I'll point out that Merseyrail's units aren't the oldest trains on the network (although "among the oldest" would be fair enough); and they won't be 50 years old by 2019. The class 507 and 508 units operated by Merseyrail are of what's called the "BREL 1972 design", a family of electric units built between 1976 and 1981. The Merseyrail units were actually built in 1978-9, so they'll be 40 years old when they're replaced (assuming that happens in 2019). They were extensively refurbished about 10 years ago. The oldest trains on the network are the class 313 units which operate in North London and along the Sussex coast. They are also to the 1972 design but were built in 1976. Other 1972-design trains operate in East London and around Glasgow.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousOctober 8th 2013.

That is really sad

AnonymousOctober 10th 2013.

The point is that "50 years old" and "the oldest on the network" are words that carry some freight. 50 years is OLD; 40 years is about the design life of a train. The "oldest trains in Britain" feeds into the "we're victims of the usual anti-Liverpool bias" meme, when the facts don't bear that out. So yes, the trains are old, which is why they're due to be replaced, but there's no more to it than that.

AnonymousOctober 8th 2013.

Good to read the trains are going to be tidied up. They look a bit of a mess to be honest and some smell quite bad inside. The main priority should be putting more carriages on the Southport - Hunts Cross line, especially on winter Sundays when things get crowded and uncomfortable.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousOctober 8th 2013.

And banning the orange lodge

Casey JonesOctober 9th 2013.

The most effective way to make the trains more presentable is to ban scruffy passengers, especially those carrying junk food and drink, most of which ends up on the seats and floor and makes the carriages stink.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
John BradleyOctober 9th 2013.

You didn't say that when you ran a chain of burger bars in major stations.

Casey JonesOctober 9th 2013.

That was an impostor.

ThomasOctober 9th 2013.

It's a "piece of cake", if you ask me.

AnonymousOctober 11th 2013.

Any expansion of the network is to be welcomed as are the new trains as it all involves continued investment to the region. Electrification of the second route to Manchester is likely anyway to allow the Manchester Airport trains to travel by this route instead of the currently being electrified route via Newtown Le Willows. Extending the Kirkby Line to Skemersdale and Wigan, and the Bidston to Wrexham are in the melting pot to eliminate diesel operated services in the region. "New" Merseyrail trains will almost certainly be dual voltage, ie collect current from overhead catenary as well as the existing third rail which over the longer term will have to be replaced as it will within the lifetime of the new trains be life expired. This is why the cost is so high and any decision has to be right one.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
Mickeydrippin'October 11th 2013.

I have heard that dual voltage trains have already been ruled out on cost grounds and any electrification from Kirkby to Wigan and Bidston to Wrexham would be by third rail collection. Perhaps however, the cost of dual voltage electric trains may come down at some future date and they might be reconsidered by Merseyrail.

John BradleyOctober 11th 2013.

I don't think dual has been ruled. Merseyrail asked for OHE after it got a massive quote from Network rail for third Bidston line 3rd rail. They then asked for 3rd party quotes and then it all went quite. OHE could be done 750V DC, which would require trains with both 3rd rail pickup and Pantograph OHE, this is the same as Trams. There is apparently a requirement for all 3rd rail to convertible to 25K OHE, though I'm not sure OHE would be usable in tunnels. en.wikipedia.org/…/Merseyrail…

John BradleyOctober 11th 2013.

Other future stuff en.wikipedia.org/…/Merseyrail…

Mickeydrippin'October 11th 2013.

My source was an ex-BR engineer, who still has local contacts within Merseyrail. Of course, since that information was imparted minds may have been changed and dual voltage is again being considered - we shall see!

JintyOctober 13th 2013.

What's wrong with the third rail? It was good enough for Hornby. Or is Tri-Ang taking over Merseyrail?

AnonymousOctober 13th 2013.

On the whole subject of railways, if Liverpool is to compete with Manchester for future business and investment, we have to campaign for reinstatement of through services to places like Glasgow, Edinburgh, Bristol and Cardiff. Also, don't forget Manchester has three trains per hour to London plus flights to Heathrow, whereas Liverpool has to make do with a mere hourly service.

6 Responses: Reply To This...
John BradleyOctober 13th 2013.

I did ask DfT if as part of the renecotiaon of the West Coast Franchise some of the Liverpool -> London trains could be extended to Scotland. No reply.

John BradleyOctober 13th 2013.

renecotiaon -> renegotiation

mickeydrippin'October 13th 2013.

Liverpool is getting a through service to Newcastle back within 12 months. Perhaps one London to Manchester trains could be extended to Liverpool via the soon to be electrified Chat Moss line.

John BradleyOctober 13th 2013.

That would be good as it would add a direct Train to Stoke.

mickeydrippin'October 14th 2013.

John. The new service is to Newcastle-upon-Tyne NOT Newcastle,, Staffs.

John BradleyOctober 14th 2013.

I know but at least some of the Manchester London trains go via SoT. See traintimes.org.uk/…/today…

Fu ManchuOctober 13th 2013.

And Manchester now has all that Chinese investment that Peel Holdings promised Liverpool. What now for Liverpool and Wirral Waters?

AnonymousOctober 29th 2013.

I think whoever wrote the link below should be hired by Merseytravel immediately! localwiki.net/…/Extending_Rapid_Transit_Merseyrail… This news of new stock is not actually new news! The Merseyrail Fleet was meant to be replaced 5 years ago, but the government 'negotiated' a refurbishment to save money. Well, invest £Billions in Cross Rail and extending such things as the Manchester Tram system instead. As always, we get short changed, and I really blame this on our local politicians and a lack of true aspiration from Merseytravel. Look at the link above, and see what we actually need! Seems if just New Rolling Stock and the age old argument of a Twice Hourly service to London is still our top aspiration, then just look elsewhere at the Manchester Northern Hub expansion, The Manchester Trams, Cross Rail in London, and HS2. Then Merseyrail is actually being starved of any real investment. Bets on we get refurbished stock from London. Same old. No investment, making us more a back water. Who really buys this? Obviously our so called Local Planners and Leaders.

AnonymousOctober 30th 2013.

Hello John MK.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
John BradleyOctober 30th 2013.

DiD you just say that?

John BradleyOctober 30th 2013.

If the MK is Malcolm Kennedy it would be nice if you did actually address the ideas and points but forward by others not just John "Waterspaces" Burns. Perhaps you would get more support if you did address various issues that I and I'm sure other have raised, rather than just loftily and patronisingly dismiss the input of interested voters. Be could if you also be less cryptic in your signature and perhaps create an account in your own name.

ThomasOctober 31st 2013.

I don't know much about railways, nor do I profess to, but I can understand your frustration JB. If I was as avid on the subject as you obviously are, I wouldn't care much for gratuitous input from whatever source. I agree wholeheartedly, if this is Malodorous, then he should come clean, if not the MK (anonymous), should save his intervention for something trivial, not clumsily barge into a serious discussion.

1 Response: Reply To This...
John BradleyOctober 31st 2013.

Not sure it was addressed to me as I suspect that it make have been a comment on the previous post by an Anonymous, who I think is John "Waterspaces" Burns, who has a habit of cross publicising himself anonymously. I know several people with the initials MK.

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