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Plans for new Merseyrail fleet move ahead

PROPOSALS involving the investment of 400 million to replace one of the oldest fleets of trains now running on National Rail have become firmer, after a detailed business case was unveiled.

Merseytravel says new trains are “now considered the best option in meeting growing demand on the network and supporting the city region s economic ambitions, while also presenting the best value for the public purse”.

The present fleet on the local Liverpool network is already almost 40 years old, but the possibility of refurbishing it again had not been ruled out until now.

New trains would be able to carry more passengers and also could run on more routes, which is another option for coping with continuing growth in the Liverpool area. The present fleet is posing an increasing challenge to maintaining the “currently high levels of performance and customer satisfaction”, Merseytravel said.

A further 40 per cent increase in passenger numbers is expected by 2028, with some parts of the Liverpool network predicted to be way beyond capacity 160 per cent filled by 2043.

A new fleet is also believed to be the best value for money, Merseytravel said, because faster trains carrying more passengers would be worth an estimated 70 million a year to the Merseyside economy, helping to create 1,000 jobs.

The Merseytravel Committee will now take a decision at its meeting on 1 October as to whether to approve the formal launch of the procurement process.

If the answer is yes, a preferred bidder would probably be identified in around 12 months time, with city region leaders then asked to give their approval.

The programme also includes investment in infrastructure, such as upgrading depots and power supplies. Merseytravel said it, would be funded at no additional cost to local taxpayers, because it would make use of funds which have already been set aside.

Merseytravel chief executive David Brown said: “Doing nothing is not an option.

The fleet is amongst the oldest in the UK and we want to ensure that we re geared up to maintain the high standards people have come to expect from Merseyrail, as well as ensuring the fleet can cope with a significant increase in passenger numbers.

“This is not just about new trains, but what they will enable us to do.

They will help us improve links within and beyond the city region, supporting our own ambitions and those of the wider Northern Powerhouse agenda, as well as benefitting us in very real economic terms, stimulating the creation of jobs and contributing millions of pounds every year to the Liverpool City Region economy.”

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Plans for new Merseyrail fleet move ahead

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