The new trains for the Merseyrail network in the UK have reached a manufacturing milestone. The first train has travelled to Germany for dynamic testing. This follows the successful static testing and signing off at Stadler’s factory in Switzerland at the beginning of October.
Stadler signed the contract to build and maintain 52 metro trains for the Liverpool City Region in February 2017. The new trains – Class 777s – will replace one of the oldest fleets in the country and will be fully accessible. These trains will start running on the Merseyrail network as of 2020, with all of them in passenger service by 2021.
During the dynamic testing in Germany, Stadler’s trains will run at up to 120km/h (75mph). All aspects of dynamic testing such as braking point and electromagnetic radiation will see in-depth testing. The vast majority of the testing will take place at the railway testing centre in Wildenrath, Germany. This is beneficial as it avoids disruption on the Merseyrail network itself.
The focus of the testing will be on ‘train on track’ performance. For this it is necessary that all the operational and mechanical elements of the train are working properly.
Once the first train has successfully finished dynamic testing, it will travel to the UK in December and arrive at Kirkdale. The new maintenance depot in Kirkdale will act as the base for further testing. Its presence in the UK will also allow driver training.
“I’m pleased to see us moving another step closer to rolling out state-of-the art, accessible, publicly-owned trains on our network. The new trains are an important part of my plans to deliver a London-style transport network for the Liverpool City Region and I can’t wait to see them in service from next year.”
Each train is 64.98m long. They will run on a 750V DC network (third rail). Furthermore, the trains will all have battery units so they can operate independently in workshop and depot areas. It will also be possible to retrofit the trains for 25kV AC operation and ETCS Level II. This would allow them to operate on line extensions, which may be electrified with overhead lines, rather than third rail. Potential destinations include Skelmersdale, Wrexham and Warrington.
“With each engineering milestone we’re getting closer to seeing these trains on our network. These trains are not only being keenly awaited by people in our city region but also by rail experts, aware of how game-changing these trains are for the industry.”
Each new train will be four cars in length, unlike the current trains, which are three cars in length. In total, the trains will be able to carry 50 percent more passengers than the existing rolling stock without a reduction in seat numbers. Specifically, each train will have 182 seats and 302 standing spaces.
Unlike the retiring fleet, which the ROSCO Angel Trains owns, these new trains will belong to Merseytravel, who will lease them to the operator.
“These trains for the Liverpool City Region, are not ‘off the shelf’, but tailored to a very specific brief. Securing the acceptance of static testing for the first assembled train is a proud day for both our customer and everyone else involved. We look forward to continued working with our partners in Liverpool on the next stages of the project.”
In the UK, the London Tramlink operates Stadler Variobahn trams. Stadler’s Class 68 and Class 88 locomotives also run in the United Kingdom.
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