We boarded the new Merseyrail train on its debut journey from Liverpool Central - our verdict on the 777

What did we think of the new train?

The first train for Merseyrail’s new fleet completed it’s first official journey on Monday, after years of delays.

Fifty-two of the 777 model were purchased from Stadler back in 2016, but the roll out was delayed due to Covid-19, a factory flood and talks with unions.

However, the new model made its debut today, with the first passengers boarding at Liverpool Central for the 10:50 service to Kirby.

The new trains will eventually replace the the current 40-year-old 507 and 508 models, and are publicly owned.

I boarded the first passenger service, to see if the trains were worth the wait.

First opinions

Arriving at the platform, I was greeted by large crowds of reporters, trainspotters and commuters and was concerned that the journey would be crowded and uncomfortable. However, Merseyrail’s claim that the train can carry 50% more passengers felt absolutely accurate. Despite masses of reporters with large tripods and cameras, I could really feel the extra space and and even those standing had plenty of space to move.

Large crowds gathered at Central’s Platform 1, waiting for the new 777 to arrive. Image: Emma Dukes/LiverpoolWorld

Stepping onto the train felt safer than usual, with a tiny gap between the sliding step and the platform. For once, I didn’t feel concerned about making a large enough leap from the platform to the train and I can only imagine how much easier it would be for those with pushchairs, wheelchairs or walking sticks.

The new trains will hold up to 50% more passengers. Image: Merseyrail

The train also had that ‘new car’ smell and was, unsurprisingly, cleaner than your standard service. The saloon was airy and bright, and there was a range of different style seating - which was very comfortable.

Features that stood out

The displays showing which station was next on the route were scattered around the train, with far more of them than usual. This means that passengers don’t need to be awkwardly turning around to see them and can easily follow the journey. There is meant to be audio that says which stations we are approaching too, however, a staff member said this was malfunctioning. There was, however, audio when we arrived at each station.

Easy to see information displays. Image: Emma Dukes/LiverpoolWorld

My favourite feature was the new doors, which illuminate green when it is safe to exit or enter the train and red when it is not safe to do so. Anything that can help improve safety is a brilliant feature in my opinion.

Displays above the doors also show which doors will be opening upon arrival at each station, making it easier for passengers to get ready to depart.

The doors on the new train light up red when it isn’t safe to enter or exit, and green when it is. Image: Emma Dukes/LiverpoolWorld

Plug sockets were a nice touch too. They’re not that important on a short journey such as Central to Kirkby which is 19 minutes, but, when the trains roll out onto longer services they’ll be a more impressive feature.

Anyone who regularly travels on this service also knows how loud it gets when approaching Moorfields, however, it really was noticably quieter on the new 777 model, so that gets a thumbs up from me.

Teething problems

I don’t have many criticisms of the new trains, however there was one thing: the Wi-Fi was an issue, as I predicted.

Throughout the journey, and the return journey, I tried to connect my phone to the Wi-Fi and it just didn’t work. Maybe it was because the train was so busy and other people had the same idea, but it didn’t work.

A lot of the journey on this service there is no mobile signal, so Wi-Fi really would have been excellent but for me, it wasn’t worth the hassle of trying to connect.

Final thoughts

Overall, I’m very impressed with the new Merseyrail trains and excited for the 777 to roll out onto more services. The journey was smooth, on time and truly didn’t feel like I was on a Merseyrail train. It may have taken a while for us to be able to experience the £500m trains, but I’m definitely on board.