Maghull – Views of our presently closed down railway

I decided to have a good look at what Network Rail and their contractors are up to whilst the Liverpool – Ormskirk Northern Line of Merseyrail has been shut down for enabling works to take place so the stations are ready for the new class 777 Stadler EMU’s in 2020. All the photos were taken on 5th November.

The first couple of shots show the ongoing platform works at Maghull Station:-

This next shot in effect shows why the works are being done at stations across the Merseyrail network:-

If you look carefully (it may be best to click on the photo to see it enlarged) you will see that the floor of the new trains will be level with the platforms and a small gap filler will come out when the train stops at a station. This is so that people with disabilities, wheelchairs, and bikes can be wheeled straight onto the new trains without the need for station staff to meet trains with portable ramps as at present with the current 507/508 trains.

Here’s a look back at Maghull Station from Poverty Lane and a look northwards from Poverty Lane in the direction of Maghull North Station. Clearly, other works were being undertaken during the shut down such as cutting back overgrowing trees:-

We then move on to the new Maghull North Station where I think that snagging work from the previous works was taking place. There was scaffolding around the lift towers but I could not get a close look as I was advised to leave the station by a member of Merseyrail’s staff. I had wandered onto the station footbridge and had not seen any warning signs but advised to leave I was. The following photo was taken looking back at the station from the Park lane overbridge:-

And finally a look north from the Park Lane overbridge in the direction of Town Green Station. Again other works were clearly taking place in the distance during the shut down of the line:-

Click on any of the photos to enlarge them

Merseyrail’s Northern Lines – Posting 2 – The Southport Line

A random selection of photos taken along the Liverpool – Southport Line:-

Please click on the photos to enlarge them

Looking towards Bank Hall Station which is just beyond the road over-bridge.

Looking towards Bank Hall Station which is just beyond the road over-bridge.

This former railway tunnel once took a railway line under the Liverpool - Southport line at Bootle Strand Station. It is now a pedestrian walkway with the Strand Shopping Centre car park visible through it.

This former railway tunnel once took a railway line under the Liverpool – Southport line at Bootle Strand Station. It is now a pedestrian walkway with the Strand Shopping Centre car park visible through it.

A Class 507 EMU arriving at Formby Station from Liverpool.

A Class 507 EMU arriving at Formby Station from Liverpool.

Steps down to the platforms at Formby Station.

Steps down to the platforms at Formby Station.

Hillside Station clearly showing its LMS history.

Hillside Station clearly showing its LMS history.

A Liverpool bound 507 EMU approaching the Crescent Road level crossing in Birkdale, Southport.

A Liverpool bound 507 EMU approaching the Crescent Road level crossing in Birkdale, Southport.

Southport Station at night with a 507/508 EMU awaiting to depart for Liverpool.

Southport Station at night with a 507/508 EMU awaiting to depart for Liverpool.

Photos 1, 2, 4, 6 & 7 are also amongst my Flickr photos at:-

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

My 1st posting on the Liverpool – Ormskirk Northern Line is available via this link:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2016/02/07/merseyrails-northern-lines-posting-1-the-ormskirk-line/

Merseyrail’s Northern Lines – Posting 1 – The Ormskirk Line

A selection of scenes from Merseyrail’s Liverpool – Ormskirk line:-

Please click on the photos to enlarge them

Merseyrail's Kirkdale Motive Power Depot with Kirkdale Station in the background.

Merseyrail’s Kirkdale Motive Power Depot with Kirkdale Station in the background.

Aintree Station at night

Aintree Station at night

Maghull Station

Maghull Station

The award winning work of the Maghull Station Volunteers literally on display at Maghull Station.

The award winning work of the Maghull Station Volunteers literally on display at Maghull Station.

Pedestrian and road bridges where Poverty Lane crosses the line north of Maghull Station.

Pedestrian and road bridges where Poverty Lane crosses the line north of Maghull Station.

The entrance/exit of Ormskirk Station at night.

The entrance/exit of Ormskirk Station at night.

Ormskirk Station at night.

Ormskirk Station at night.

Photos 1, 3, 5 & 7 are also amongst my Flickr photos at:-

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

Merseyrail – Those long promised new trains could be running after 2020

Could the new rolling stock look like this?

Could the new rolling stock look like this?

The Railway Gazette reports today:

Transport authority Merseytravel announced the five shortlisted bidders for a contract to supply around 50 new electric multiple-units for the Merseyrail suburban network centred on Liverpool on January 11:

Bombardier;
CAF;
Mitsui in a consortium with Alstom and East Japan Railway’s rolling stock manufacturing business J-Trec;
Siemens;
Stadler.

Tender documents are scheduled to be released on January 22, with bids to be submitted by the end of April. A preferred bidder is expected to be chosen towards the end of 2016, and the new EMUs would be delivered by the early 2020s.

The overall cost is estimated at around £400m, including upgrading power supplies and infrastructure improvements at stations and depots. Merseytravel said the trains would be financed using ‘a variety of funding mechanisms’, including a reserve which has already been already established. There would be no additional costs to local taxpayers, with the investment to be recovered over the operational life of the EMUs by leasing them to the operating concessionaire.

‘All of our five candidates have extensive experience of providing trains, maintenance services and depots’, said Merseytravel Chair Councillor Liam Robinson, adding that ‘as part of the process we’ll be interested in how the bidders may be able to tap into the local labour market and make the most of UK-based opportunities.’

The current Merseyrail fleet of 59 Class 507 and 508 three-car 750 V DC third-rail EMUs date from 1978-80 and are nearing the end of the lives, while ridership is growing by 2·5% a year and predicted to increase by 40% by 2028. Merseytravel considered options for using refurbished trains, ordering new ones or planning for a future order. It concluded that new trains would be the best option, providing faster journey times and the ability to carry ‘significantly’ more passengers. They could also be ordered with 25 kV 50 Hz capability to allow potential operation to new destinations such as Warrington and Crewe within the next 30 years.

With thanks to Bob for the lead to this story.

Merseyrail rolling stock replacement – Latest news

This is a subject that must be in the top 3 that I have posted about in recent times; it is certainly quite a saga of false dawns. But hey maybe this time the project really is a runner; we can only hope so.

From this:-

The present Merseyrail rolling stock Class 507/8 EMU's) at Southport Station.

The present Merseyrail rolling stock Class 507/8 EMU’s) at Southport Station.

To this?:-

Could the new rolling stock look like this?

Could the new rolling stock look like this?

The following is from a presentation to Merseytravel Committee members on 1st October 2015

Fleet Replacement – Rationale

• The underlying reasons to consider fleet replacement are:
– Limited passenger carrying capacity combined with the ongoing growth in patronage which would lead to increasing overcrowding if no action was taken
– The age of the current fleet which at 37 years old is amongst the oldest in the UK and will become increasingly expensive to maintain
• A comprehensive business case has been prepared which has explored all of options ranging from doing nothing, through refurbishment of the existing fleet to replacement with new trains
• The project needs to be considered as a complete system, so due consideration has been given to infrastructure upgrades, modernisation of the maintenance facilities and impacts on the operator
• The economic and financial case for fleet replacement is the most attractive option and can be funded with no impact on the Merseytravel levy
• Fleet replacement will provide tangible improvements for passengers including;
– Increased capacity
– Reduced journey times
– Improved travelling environment (air conditioning, passenger information, improved comfort etc…)
– Easier boarding and alighting
• Passenger surveys have been undertaken to help shape the specification and consultation on key features of the project will be continued throughout the design process
• The project improves connectivity across the city region thereby boosting economic activity by £70m p.a. and leading to the creation of 1,000 jobs

Long Term Rail Strategy

• The project will lead to the Merseyrail network being comprehensively modernised, thereby becoming the platform from which Merseytravel’s Long Term Rail Strategy (LTRS) can be successfully delivered
• The new trains will initially replace the current fleet and operate over the existing 3rd rail network
• However they will be designed such that they can be converted to dual voltage operation and operate additionally on the overhead electrified network
• This feature, together with the ability to order additional trains, will enable the Merseyrail Electrics network to be extended with a uniform fleet as projects within the LTRS are delivered

Fleet Replacement – Key Features

• The new fleet will carry significantly more passengers than the current one, have better acceleration and braking performance and provide a better travelling environment for passengers
• It is anticipated that the new trains will be operated in a different manner to the existing fleet as modern rolling stock is designed for driver controlled operation, rather than relying on a guard to “dispatch” the train
• However Merseytravel recognises the important role that guards currently play in reassuring passengers and will work with Merseyrail to ensure that changes to staffing structures do not disadvantage passengers
• The current fleet is owned by Angel Trains, one of the ROSCOs which were established when British Rail was privatised. It is intended that Merseytravel will own the new fleet which will be leased to the operator. This is the most financially efficient approach, enabling access to highly competitive sources of funding
• The rolling stock market has evolved considerably since the current fleet was built. The fleet is currently maintained “in house” by Merseyrail, which reflects how the industry was structured pre-privatisation
• 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
• The strategy is well proven in the market. Dialogue with industry has shown that there is capability and appetite for this approach which is expected to be beneficial to Merseyrail and will be explored through the procurement phase
• If this approach is adopted, maintenance would be carried out through a subcontract to Merseyrail and Merseyrail’s engineering workforce would be transferred to the new train builder under TUPE regulations

Funding and Commercial Strategy

To date £5.76m has been invested in the programme by Merseytravel drawn from reserves
• Network Rail funded their initial participation, MEL have invested considerable effort at their own expense
• Analysis to date has been undertaken on the basis that Merseytravel funds the project directly as this provides access to the most cost-effective funding sources
– Merseytravel has accumulated £65million of reserves which could potentially be invested in the project
– Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) funding is available
– European Investment Bank (EIB) have assessed the project and have advised that it could be eligible for up to 50% funding of the capital value. At present EIB funding is more competitive than PWLB
• Other potential funding sources will be continue to explored in parallel with undertaking the procurement
• The competition will be advertised in the OJEU, using the negotiated procedure – Merseytravel envisages having 4-5 world class, motivated bidders
• The capital works will be contracted by Merseytravel, while the maintenance will be provided through a subcontract to Merseyrail
• Collaborative working will be a key feature of the programme

Fleet Replacement – Timescales

• The procurement phase is planned to commence following the meeting of the Merseytravel Committee on the 1st October 2015
• The main contract award, which will typically include depot upgrades and maintenance as well as providing the fleet, is planned by the end of 2016
• The infrastructure works are planned to develop in parallel with the main procurement, reaching GRIP3 by the end of 2016
• The upgrades to the infrastructure, which consist primarily of power supply reinforcement and regularisation of the platform – track relationship, thereby improving the interface with the train are scheduled to have been completed before delivery of the new fleet starts in 2019
• The new fleet will be fully introduced into service in the early 2020s at which point there will be a change to the timetable, taking advantage of the new trains’ improved performance and the reinforcement of the power supply to reduce journey times

Merseyrail – More on the promised new trains

I have been seeking reliable information about the process for obtaining the new trains and from what I can see at present the situation looks like this:-

* Merseyrail/Merseytravel/Liverpool City Region – have not selected the next generation rolling stock.

IMG_4864

* It will only become known what new rolling stock has been selected once they (Merseytravel on behalf of Liverpool City Region?) have completed the procurement process that is about to commence assuming there is political approval for the procurement.

Could the new guardless Merseyrail trains look like this?

Could the new guardless Merseyrail trains look like this?

* The new fleet of trains will be a little smaller in quantity than the existing one, but will be able to cater for the anticipated growth in passenger numbers.

A current Merseyrail Class 508 EMU at Maghull Station

A current Merseyrail Class 508 EMU at Maghull Station

* There will be flexibility within contracts to allow additional rolling stock to be purchased, should the Merseyrail network expand.

Whilst at face value procuring fewer trains than presently run on the Merseyrail network seems wrong headed I think this will at least partly be explained by the new electrical multiple units being available a greater % of the time i.e. they will need less maintenance and will break down less than the units they are replacing.

Personally, I would rather see more units being purchased via the main initial tender so that they are procured at a better price than add-ons to the contract which are usually more expensive. Such a signal would also make the obviously required extensions to the Merseyrail system

Ormskirk to Preston
Kirkby to Skelmersdale/Wigan
Bidston to Wrexham

something that will happen rather than something that might happen. In other words make the extensions happen rather than just talk about them as has been the case for far too many years.

If the Liverpool City Region is to be a success it has to be well connected to the wider north west of England and indeed North Wales. Presently, by rail it is certainly not well connected so wider horizons have to be aimed for if a big opportunity is not to be missed.