MERSEYRAIL: New train unveiled in the region
On board the new train, Image: LDRS
A brand new quicker, safer and more spacious Merseyrail train was unveiled in our region today.
The train, which will be owned by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, is part of the first new fleet of Merseyrail trains in more than 40 years.
Once all the trains are completed, the new fleet will be more than 50 strong.
The new trains are a key part of Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram’s plan for a London-style transport network that seeks to make it quick, easy and reliable for people to travel around the region by taking greater local control of public transport and linking different modes of transport together.
At today’s event, which showcased the train at Birkenhead North station, the spacious, clean and easily accessible nature of the carriages compared to the current Merseyrail fleet was clear to see.
Speaking at today’s unveiling, Andy Heath, managing director at Merseyrail, shed some light on when passengers can expect to see the new fleet in service.
Mr Heath said that although there are still obstacles to overcome, he was hopeful that a timetable for the trains coming into use could be published in the next few months.
He added that the Ormskirk to Kirkby service will be the first line to get the new trains, as it is near to the maintenance depot and any issues would be easier to deal with.
Among the advantages of the new trains is a more than 50% increase in capacity, from just over 300 to more than 470 and a 10% reduction in journey times thanks to quicker acceleration and braking.
Cllr Liam Robinson, chair of the Liverpool City Region’s Transport Committee, was keen to stress how much of a step forward the new trains were.
Speaking to the LDRS, he said: “There’s so many brilliant things about these trains.
“The key thing I want to point out is because these trains are owned by the citizens of the city region, we have been able to specify the things that we want.
“Probably the best feature we’ve got is level access from the platform to the train.
“A sliding step comes out of each door, which means if you’re in a wheelchair or pushing a buggy, or heavy luggage, or whatever means you couldn’t have stepped on previously, actually now you can just go straight into the train.
“We’re the first part of the heavy rail network anywhere in Great Britain to achieve that, we’re really proud that we’ve been able to.”
Cllr Robinson was also confident that the city region’s ownership of the trains would be a success.
He added: “One of the things we always did a lot of work into is what would be the most cost effective way of delivering the new trains.
“By us owning them it’s a third cheaper than going through a private leasing group. Why would we burn money on a model that doesn’t work?”
Asked whether the cost of the new trains would lead to hire fares, Cllr Robinson said: “A lot of our business case was always based on the fact that we didn’t want to be putting up fares, so we wanted to make sure we’ve still got affordable rail for people to use.
“We want to make sure it can be a successful service by keeping the fares as low as we can.”
Fadi Khairallah, project manager at train manufacturer Stadler, was keen to explain some of the exciting new features of the fleet.
Mr Khairallah said one key feature is the USB ports at every second seat, allowing people to charge their phones as they are on the move.
He added that another major advantage was the presence of CCTV on carriages which could be tracked live by security staff, while an innovative feature allowed people to evacuate out of the front of the train as well as the side doors in an emergency.
Words: George Morgan, Local Democracy Reporter
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