UK: ‘The time has finally arrived — our new trains are now just days away’, said Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram when he announced that Merseyrail’s Stadler Class 777 EMUs are expected to enter service on January 23.
Rotheram’s announcement on January 18 came after drivers represented by the ASLEF trade union accepted an offer from Merseyrail regarding the operation of the 53 custom-designed four-car 750 V DC third rail electric multiple-units.
‘We’ve worked with the trade unions and train operator to help deliver a fair deal for everyone; one that protects jobs, enhances the role of a second safety critical member of staff on every train, and provides passengers with value for money’, said Rotheram.
‘Unlike the government’s approach nationally, we’ve shown that there is a better way to handle these matters — and it’s by getting everyone around the table and working together in good faith.’
Andy Hourigan, ASLEF’s full-time organiser on Merseyrail, said ‘ASLEF members have voted to accept a revised offer from Merseyrail which we recommended to the membership. Meanwhile, the Class 777 units are currently being trialed by ASLEF reps and safety-tested by the reps, too. The training course is about 98% agreed. So, if all the stars align, we might see the trains on the network very, very soon.’
The Stadler EMUs will initially be used on the Kirkby line, followed by the Ormskirk line and then the Northern and Wirral lines later in the year.
Their introduction has been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, which affected manufacturing and testing workstreams and disrupted supply chains leading to knock-on effect on the rest of the programme.
‘We’ve invested half a billion pounds in our new fleet, which are packed with great new features like sliding step technology, free phone charging and wi-fi and more room for bikes and wheelchairs — and I cannot wait to see people’s reactions as they step onboard’, said Rotheram.
Rotheram said the introduction of the trains would be ‘a massive milestone in my journey to build the London-style transport system that our area deserves’, and ‘just the beginning of a local transport revolution’.
This includes plans to ‘take back control of our buses’, invest in active travel and simplify and integrate ticketing to create a ‘London-style integrated transport system’ with a ‘Merseyrail for all’ serving communities across the Liverpool city region.