9th March 2021 · ‘The new fleet for Merseyrail’

Presenter: David Powell

There were 54 virtual attendees for this talk by David Powell, who was involved in developing the tram systems of Nottingham, Manchester Metrolink and Edinburgh, is now the Programme Director of Rolling Stock at Merseytravel.

David is heading a project to replace Merseyrail electrics, rolling stock upgrades and associated infra-structure and maintenance facilities. This will transform the already successful railway for the next 30 years with passenger-led design involving 40 regular passengers over an 18 month period. The £500m investment, funded by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, will bring new trains to the Northern and Wirral lines giving a boost to local economy and creating more than 1000 new jobs.

Stadler have a 35 year contract to supply and maintain Merseyrail trains and to modernise the depots at Kirkdale and Birkenhead North with a temporary UK HQ of 20 people at Kirkdale. An innovation is the driving cab simulator at Kirkdale along with roof air conditioning of the new Class 777s. We then saw the new Class 777 which has step free access at all stations and on all trains with level boarding, helping people with mobility impairments, buggies, bicycles, luggage, children and the elderly, meaning no more steps or ramps required.

David then showed the new Class 777003 EMU on test, one of a fleet of 52 which will replace the BR Class 507 and 508, the new four car units being 65 metres long and offering 50% more capacity than the outgoing Class 507/8.

Network Rail have the contract for adjustments to platforms at 56 stations along with track realignment, signalling etc.

Panasonic will provide Wireless Connectivity, real time CCTV/Voice and Data Link between trains and the control centre at Sandhills along with free internet access to passengers.

A power supply upgrade is necessary, eight new sub stations ensuring a greater quantity of electricity.

Future developments include running beyond 3rd rail network and exploring batteries and charging methods within a 20 mile radius and expansion of the Merseyrail Network beyond Kirkby. After a short break David invited questions which included guards, yellow ends and possible preservation of a Class 507/8 etc.

Thanks, David, for an absorbing and informative talk, very much enjoyed by everyone present and thoroughly recommended.