Merseytravel is proposing to purchase a brand new fleet of electric trains to cater for the forecast growth in passenger numbers.
Having fully evaluated the three options available (doing nothing, refurbishing the existing fleet or acquiring new electric multiple units), Merseytravel has concluded that acquiring new trains for the Merseyrail Electrics train operating concession is the best way forward.
The oldest of the current fleet of 59 Class 507/508 trains is over 35 years old, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to meet passengers’ aspirations for reliability and comfort.
The size and performance of Merseyrail trains are also severely constrained by the tight curves, steep gradients and closely spaced stations on the network.
The preferred bidder is due to be announced in about a year’s time. The delivery plan could mean the first new trains arriving at the Merseyrail depots late in 2019, with the deliveries completed in 2020/21.
A 40% increase in the number of passengers using the Merseyrail services is expected by 2028, and better ambience and improved journey times offered by these new trains are expected to increase demand yet further.
As it is not practicable to operate longer or more frequent trains through the city centre tunnels, the new trains will be designed to accommodate significantly more passengers than the Class 507/508s.