Date £500m fleet of new Merseyrail trains rolled out to be discussed this week

Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram said in March that he hoped that the new stock would be on the rails in the summer.

A potential date for the rolling out of new Merseyrail trains will be heard behind closed doors.

Liverpool City Region Combined Authority (LCRCA) is to discuss bringing its new £500 million fleet into service when it meets on Friday with a date for public use yet to be confirmed.

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Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram told an overview and scrutiny committee in March that he hoped that the new stock would be on the rails “in the summer at long last”.

He said the trains were “ready to be introduced” and drivers were undergoing technical training ahead of the new fleet being passenger ready.

A Merseyrail train in the station. Image: Shutterstock

A financial performance report to the LCRCA transport committee earlier this year explained how progress on the new rolling stock “has been negatively impacted by COVID-19 with delivery being delayed, which has placed upwards pressure on the overall costs of the project.”

The combined authority could firm up a date for the stock to hit public rails but that section of Friday’s meeting will be held in private.

According to its limited report, the item will be heard behind closed doors as it contains “information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information).”

The report to the transport committee in March said that the project’s business case has been built around higher passenger revenues, however the ongoing pandemic caused uncertainty around the recovery of traveller numbers on the network.

It is understood that additional expenditure also came about through the testing of new train designs which were made more challenging and time consuming by the pandemic.

The new fleet is part of Mayor Rotheram’s vision to create ‘Merseyrail for All’ – a commitment to connecting under-served communities to the Merseyrail network. In July last year, testing of the new rolling stock began as they replace the existing 40-year-old fleet.

The battery-powered trains are said to use up to 30% less energy than the existing models on the network. It is expected that the new trains will run on services to a new station being created at Headbolt Lane, Kirkby.

Initial earthworks are now underway at the site, which is anticipated to open in 2023.