Merseyrail – What will the new trains look like and when will they appear?

Well this one has done the rounds more times than any of us care to remember and I have posted about the saga previously on this blog site.

Could the new trains look like this?

Could the new trains look like this?

So where are we up to? Well a presentation to members of Merseytravel on 4th June 2015 said this. I have added some explanations of weird rail industry terminology in [ ]:-

Current Situation
• Merseyrail Electrics is one of the best performing TOCs [Train Operating Companies] in the UK [makes you wonder about the others as I know locals who think Merseyrail is a poor performer], nonetheless the system does operate within a number of constraints
• The current fleet consists of 59×3 car units leased by Merseytravel from Angel Trains then sub-leased to Merseyrail (contract extendable to December 2019)
• By this time the vehicles will be over 40 years old
• Fleet reliability has improved recently, but remains modest (~11,000 MTIN) [Miles per Technical Incident Number – the frequency of breakdowns]
• The availability requirement (85%) is very undemanding and masks the poor reliability
• The trains make poor use of the interior space and while comfortable for suburban rolling stock have a relatively low passenger carrying capacity (303 passengers with 192 seats)
• A small scale refresh programme is underway which will allow the fleet to continue operating until the end of the decade but will not address capacity constraints
• The traction power infrastructure is under pressure, which limits performance and expansion
• The depot facilities have seen little investment and are inefficiently laid out
• The LTRS [Long Term Rail Strategy – This is a recent document produced by Merseytravel and on which I have commented on before] anticipates continued growth in patronage, regardless of any investment
• If no additional capacity is provided there will be over-crowding, leading to growth being stifled within the current concession period 2

A couple of additional interesting facts
• Extending the current fleet’s life beyond the 2030s is not considered viable.
• Merseytravel has considered a wide range of commercial strategies and has concluded that the bundling of the rolling stock, depot re-construction and maintenance into a single set of contracts with one supplier optimises risk transfer and value for money

It seems that a meeting of the Merseyside Combined Authority [City Region Cabinet] on 21st August will be the next significant date in this saga.

Or could they look like this?

Or could they look like this?

Whatever happens it seems that the decision making process can’t be put off for much longer.

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