UK: The sixth of the 52 four-car 750 V DC third rail electric multiple-units which Stadler is to supply for Merseyrail services around Liverpool is to be fitted with a 5 tonne battery to test the business case for energy storage. While all the EMUs will be equipped for regenerative braking, this is not seen as optimal on the Merseyrail network.

The battery could also permit running on non-electrified lines. The EMUs will also have also passive provision for the future installation of 25 kV 50 Hz electrical equipment.

A full scale mock-up of one of the EMUs is to be displayed in Liverpool this summer. They will have off-centre front emergency evacuation doors to maximise cab space for the driver. Passengers will have a forward view into the cab, although drivers will be able to turn the glass opaque. There will be ‘not quite level’ boarding, with a floor height of 930 mm, platform height of 915 mm and sliding steps to fill the gap between the train and platform edges.

‘Stadler make bespoke trains and we want to take advantage of that’, Merseytravel’s Programme Director, Rolling Stock, David Powell, told Railway Gazette International.

Final assembly of the EMUs is to be undertaken at Stadler’s plants at Altenrhein in Switzerland and Siedlce in Poland, with bogies supplied from Valencia in Spain and the bodyshells from Szolnok in Hungary.

The new fleet is expected to start entering service in February 2020, with all 52 EMUs due to be in traffic by the end of 2021.

Negotiations with trade unions about the crewing of the EMUs are ongoing, Powell said. The new fleet would be equipped for driver-only operation and would not have guards, but 100 onboard staff would be deployed across the fleet and would be free to roam and assist passengers where required.