Merseyrail – Labour-run Merseytravel Committee needs to be clear what they are looking for in terms of guards on new train fleet

A present 507/508 EMU Merseyrail unit at Crescent Road level crossing - Birkdale, Southport.

A present 507/508 EMU Merseyrail unit at Crescent Road level crossing – Birkdale, Southport.

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/merseyrail-staff-protest-over-fears-11674923

The Liverpool Echo has the story – see link above

I have blogged previously about the worrying potential loss of train guards once the new fleet of Merseyrail trains is introduced and agree with the RMT union campaign to keep train guards for passenger safety reasons.

My concern all along has been that Labour-run Merseytravel have been unwilling to say whether they are specifying guards on the new trains or not and it seems they are still unwilling to come off the political fence they have chosen to sit on.

This quote from the Echo article is telling:-

But a spokeswoman for the travel body said it could not reveal whether bidders to run the service were proposing driver-only trains or not, citing commercial confidentiality laws.

Surely it was up to Merseytravel to specify that it did want the new fleet of trains with a guard facility on them then all bidders to build the trains would have included such in their bids. Why has Merseytravel seemingly left this crucial decision in the hands of the train builders to decide? This smacks, to me at least, of the Transport Committee abdicating responsibility.

The photo above is amongst my Flickr shots at:-

www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/

New trains for Merseyrail – but backlash at guards removal

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/union-bosses-rail-services-slide-9984704

The Liverpool Echo has the story – see link above

Yes I know I am a trade unionist pointing out that the trade union representing railway workers in the UK is unhappy with the removal of guards on Merseyrail trains when the new rolling stock is delivered sometime in the future. So we would say that would we not.

Could the new guardless Merseyrail trains look like this?

Could the new guardless Merseyrail trains look like this?

But when I posted about the promised couple of days ago I raised this very concern and of course I am wholly unsurprised that the RMT union has raised similar concerns. My previous post is here:-
tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2015/09/02/new-trains-for-merseyside-promised-yet-again/

It is obviously the case that the RMT union has to first defend its members jobs in any way that it can but here they do have what I see as a valid point in the wider context of safety on on local railway network. I wonder if the Labour comrades who run the Liverpool City Region will take any notice of the RMT’s representations?

Friends of the 502 Group

Last weekend, as I posted about a few days ago, Jen and I went to have a look at the work being carried out by this group of volunteers who are trying to rebuild a desperately neglected Class 502 EMU which used to run on the Merseyrail network until it and its fellow class mates started to be displaced from the late 1970’s by the present Class 507/8 EMU’s

The restoration work required is massive as I think these two photos show:-

IMG_5155r

IMG_5156r

And for those with memories of the interior of the 502 EMU’s how about this nostalgia shot:-

IMG_5146r

Click on the photos to enlarge them.

Read more about the Friends of the 502 Group on their web site:-

www.class502.org.uk/

The photos above are amongst my Flickr shots at:-

www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/

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.

Bank Hall Station – A splash of much needed colour

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Click on the photo to enlarge it.

Merseyrail’s Bank Hall Station on the Liverpool – Southport Northern Line is very drab so this brightly painted 507/8 EMU certainly made for a splash of colour when it stopped there.

The photo is amongst my Flickr shots at:-
www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/

Merseyrail – New Trains? – This one has done the rounds many times before

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/merseyside-set-new-fleet-trains-8653733

The Liverpool Echo has the story – see link above.

A Merseyrail electric unit at Bootle New Strand Station

A Merseyrail electric unit at Bootle New Strand Station

It will be good to see this saga coming to a conclusion as new trains for the Merseyrail electrified network have been doing the rounds for more years than many of us would care to recall. A clear decision is needed and please no more optimistic speculation!