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?

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.

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!

Merseyrail – Now what about those promised new trains?

Modern Railways magazine – November 2013 edition has a useful update from which I have drawn out the following points of interest.

Firstly, the present electric units (507/508 types for train buffs) are going to get a refresh to take them through until the new trains arrive. They are on lease until 2018 with a potential extension of up to 1 year. The refresh will be external and internal, with a new livery. The first refreshed unit should appear in a couple of months time.

A snowy shot of Maghull Station with an Ormskirk bound train approaching

A snowy shot of Maghull Station with an Ormskirk bound train approaching

Merseyrail is working with Network Rail to develop the best wheel profiles for the new units to cope with the tight curves in the underground tunnels due to such challenges adversely affecting the present fleet.

It seems that in terms of specifications for the new fleet they are being kept to broad issues so that bidders to build the new trains can be as innovative as they can in developing their ideas.

This all sounds quite positive yet I can’t but think that the last issue I mentioned i.e. allowing train builders to come up with ideas would have been the last thing that Merseytravel (not to be confused with Merseyrail) would have done under its old and recently departed guard where socialist ‘tractor factory’ principles seemed to rule the day!

And for a bit of history try a visit to this site to look at the previous generation of electric units on the Merseyrail system:-

www.class502.org.uk/