Merseyrail – News about that new fleet of Stadler trains

The following is from a Merseytravel press release

Ground work has started on the new state-of-the-art depot at Kirkdale where all maintenance work for the new Merseyrail trains, due to be introduced in 2020, will take place.

Warrington-based BAM Nuttall are currently undertaking enabling works after being awarded the contract by Stadler Rail Services, who will be manufacturing and maintaining the new fleet.

Preliminary work is due to start in October, with the depot build set to be complete by 2019, in time for the arrival of new trains for testing.

Features of the new depot will include:

· The creation of a maintenance facility for the new state-of-the-art Stadler trains.

· A driving cab simulator, including a full-size mock-up of a driver’s cab, facilities for a link between the trainer and trainee and a lecture theatre for people to observe the training.

· A new train washing facility.

· Stabling capacity for up to 30 trains.

· New offices and welfare facilities for the maintenance workforce.

Meanwhile, the existing Birkenhead depot will remain essential to operations, with plans for a second new train washing facility. Detailed plans are still being developed for this site.

Thomas Zweifel, Programme Director & Deputy CEO UK for Stadler said:

“Stadler will implement in the Kirkdale depot its state-of-the-art technology and maintenance expertise. The significant local investment and up-skilling of local workforce are strengthening the Merseyside industrial sector and will overall result in a positive economic impact. Stadler is excited to be involved in this project that will see new trains on the Merseyrail network in 2020.

David Powell, Merseytravel’s programme director for the new trains said:

“The new depot at Kirkdale and the refurbished depot at Birkenhead North will be essential in keeping our new trains reliable, clean and serving the Liverpool City Region well. The start of the ground works at Kirkdale is an exciting milestone – the first real visible sign that these new state-of-the-art trains are coming.”

Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde, Merseyrail’s managing director, added:

“The start of the work to overhaul Kirkdale depot is another step along the way to transform the Merseyrail network, moving us a stage closer to the introduction of new trains. We welcome this much needed upgrade, which will take the depot into the 21st century, equipped to maintain the trains to a very high standard.”

Added Paul Abraham, project manager for BAM Nuttall:

“‘We have been working collaboratively with Stadler during the tender stage of this exciting programme. From our Warrington office we have been able to provide locally based staff to support the bid and develop the programme. We will continue with this locally based approach throughout the delivery phase and also provide opportunity for our northern based supply chain. We look forward to delivering this key piece of infrastructure for Stadler and Merseytravel and supporting the local economy’

For more information about the new trains visit www.merseytravel.gov.uk/newtrains

Notes:- In February 2017, Stadler signed contracts to manufacture and maintain a new fleet of 52 metro trains for the Liverpool City Region.

The total value of the agreements, including the depot construction works, amounts to £700 million.

The deal also includes an option clause for the production and maintenance of an additional 60 units, further increasing the total value of the contracts if exercised.

With the maintenance services and depot construction works, it is expected that around two thirds of the total contract value will be invested by Stadler into the UK and the economy of the Liverpool City Region and the wider North West.

Stadler runs maintenance operations in 16 countries worldwide.

The new fleet of trains will be in full service by 2021.

Blog editor’s note:- Of course much of this good news is still dependent on the resolution of the present industrial dispute between the RMT Union and Merseyrail over the new trains running without train guards. The industrial action, which seems to have the support of many of the travelling public on Merseyside, will seemingly continue for the foreseeable future as the dispute is presently showing little if any sign of being successfully resolved. The RMT campaign is called ‘Keep the Guards’

With thanks to Cllr. John Dodd for the lead to this story

Kirkby – Another end of the line for Merseyrail (at present)

The Merseyrail half of Kirkby Station looking towards Liverpool.

I have posted previously about the bizarre severing of the Liverpool – Preston railway line at Ormskirk which leaves a great 15 minute service from Ormskirk to Liverpool and a far from impressive irregular service from Ormskirk to Preston.

My posting about the Liverpool – Preston Line is available via this link:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2016/05/01/ormskirk-end-of-the-line-well-end-of-two-lines-actually/

But there’s another of these bizarre serverings on the Merseyrail network at Kirkby where the Liverpool – Wigan Line is in effect chopped in two. In some ways this is actually more bizarre than the severing at Ormskirk because there’s another Merseyside community which Merseyrail does not reach just up the line at Rainford, part of St Helens Borough. If a severing had to take place surely Rainford would have been the obvious place would it not? BTW I am not arguing for such split tracks, indeed they make no sense to me at all.

Kirkby (like Ormskirk) is a single line, single platform station where the two separate train services meet end on and like Ormskirk the service on to Wigan and beyond is far less frequent and the Merseyrail one into Liverpool.

Also like on the Ormskirk Line there is is always talk of the Merseyrail system being extended, in the case of the Kirkby Line onto Skelmersdale. To achieve this a brand new spur line needs to be built into the 1960’s ‘New Town’ of Skem as the planners of the day ripped up and built on the railway line that ran through the old town of Skem from Ormskirk to St Helens. It will also mean a new station as well so the bill will be huge if the project ever gets the go ahead.

Looking at this optimistically the proposals are reasonably sound as Merseyrail would then run directly into Skem with a separate diesel service from Skem to Wigan from the new station. If the project was in the south it would have have had money chucked at it at least a decade ago but with recent back-tracking by Government over rail electrification schemes across a huge swathe of Northern England, whilst Cross-Rail 2 in London starts to get the thumbs up from Ministers, optimism about rail investment in the North of any sort is in very short supply. So for the foreseeable future Merseyrail will continue to stop at Kirkby.

The photo is amongst my Flickr shots at:-

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

Merseytravel respond to a customer’s concerns about the removal of Guards from the new Merseyrail trains fleet

A new Stadler Merseyrail train artist impression

Merseyrail passenger Jen Robertson has recently raised concerns about the removal of train guards from the new fleet of Stadler trains on order for this rail franchise. The response to her concerns from Merseytravel is below.*

*****

Thank you for your e-mail about the new fleet of trains for the Merseyrail network.

As you may be aware, a decision was made on the 16th December 2016 by elected councillors and council leaders of the Merseytravel Committee and the Combined Authority in the Liverpool City Region, to approve the purchase of a new fleet of trains for the Merseyrail network to replace the current life expired fleet, some of which are nearly 40 years old. These trains will be owned by the city region and operated by Merseyrail. Merseyrail will not gain financially from the new trains.

I was sorry to learn of your concerns around the new trains, which we believe will deliver a quicker, safer and more reliable rail service to our customers in the future. I can assure you that you will continue to see our staff as you travel across the network, including a new team of on-board colleagues that will play a key role in supporting our customers. The trains themselves will be safer with facilities like CCTV, emergency intercoms to summon assistance and clear lines of sight throughout the length of the vehicle to reduce blind spots with the potential for crime/antisocial behaviour. Please be assured we do fully understand yours and other customers concerns, and will continue to work to make our system ever safer. We are also working very closely with our colleagues to resolve the ongoing dispute.

Merseytravel have worked extensively with customers during the development of the proposals for the new trains, including carrying out dedicated workshops with members of the local community, co-ordinated by the independent national passenger organisation, Transport Focus. The workshops have directly supported the development of the design of the trains which were approved the Combined Authority in December.

I hope this further information helps to reassure you that the new trains will offer a safer and much improved customer experience for passengers on our network in the future. Please do contact me again if you wish to discuss this any more.

*****

Of course this is just one side of the story, a story which is leading to a great deal of industrial unrest in the rail industry both here on Merseyside and across other rail franchises too where the guards are being removed.

For me the feeling that the guards are being removed more for cost cutting purposes than anything else is troubling. I am also unsure as to how a couple of recent accidents on Merseyrail, where guards have seemingly been blamed for passenger injury, plays into the decision to removed guards. The same decision making process will still need to be made by the driver when the guards are removed so how can an already busy driver be better at making such decisions than a guard?

I remain troubled by the removal of guards from trains.

* Merseyrail is the private sector company which runs the franchise in the Greater Merseyside area.

Merseytravel is the public sector Committee of the Liverpool City Region which controls the franchise.

Maghull – Work on the new Maghull North Station

This was the scene on Tuesday 26th September as contractors were making a big impression on the site of Maghull’s second railway station which is due to open in May 2018. The 3 car Merseyrail Class 508 EMU (508 139) has left the present Maghull Station and is heading for Town Green Station in Aughton on its way to Ormskirk.

For those who don’t know where this second railway station will be in the Town, it’s on the Liverpool – Ormskirk line off School Lane (between the present Maghull & Town Green Stations) and the station building will be on the old Moss Side Hospital site. The rest of the former hospital site is being redeveloped for housing as you may be able to make out in the right background of the photo.

The housing development is being called ‘Poppy Fields’ as a nod to the great importance of Moss Side Hospital which was world famous for its treatment of Shell Shock victims in WW1. Sadly the campaign to have the new station called ‘Maghull Moss Side’ in recognition of the importance of the former hospital was turned down by the railway powers that be. Indeed, they also rejected the present Maghull Station being renamed ‘Maghull Hornby’ after the Town’s most famous resident Frank Hornby (creator of Dinky Toys, Hornby Railways and Meccano) who once lived only yards away from it.

The photo (click on it to enlarge it) is also amongst my Flickr shots at:-

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

Skelmersdale – Putting it back on the railway map?

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/skelmersdale-rail-link-moves-step-13639557

The Liverpool Echo has the story on its web site – see link above

I have covered this project previously and whilst I know that some Lancashire folk are highly sceptical of the £300m+ new railway line and Skem station ever being funded this is clearly another, if small, milestone along the right track.

Here’s a shot of the old and now long gone former Skelmersdale Station:-

The old Skelmersdale Station – now long gone in the name of 1950’s/60’s progress!

And here’s a couple of shots taken at Rainford Junction Station (there is no junction now):-

And finally a shot at Kirkby Station (the subject of a future posting of mine) where the present line from Wigan meets head on with Merseyrail’s electric service to/from Liverpool:-

End of the line from Wigan, the Merseyrail service to Liverpool is accessed under the bridge.

NoteThe last trains to Skelmersdale ran on Sunday 4 November 1956 and the station closed to passengers on Monday 5 November 1956. Skelmersdale station remained open for goods services until 4 November 1963 when it was closed completely. Information from Disused Stations UK.

Click on the photos to enlarge them

The last photo is amongst my Flickr shots at:-

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

Public Transport Complaints on Merseyside – This is what to do

Do you ever have a gripe with a train or bus operator? Well if you do Merseytravel (our local public sector transport committee) have an e-mail address via which you can make your views/concerns known.

Comments or complaints relating to a particular bus service or specific transport related matter should be directed to Merseytravel’s comments system;

comments@merseytravel.gov.uk

It will then, I am told, be referred to the appropriate Merseytravel department or commercial operator.

With thanks to Cllr. John Dodd for the lead to this posting