Merseyrail’s first Class 777 bodyshell set for com­ple­tion

Rail (UK) - - Network News -

The first Merseyrail Class 777 bodyshell is due for im­mi­nent com­ple­tion in Szol­nok, in Hungary.

The op­er­a­tor has 52 four-car elec­tric mul­ti­ple units on or­der from Stadler, in a deal worth £460 mil­lion. The bodyshells are be­ing man­u­fac­tured in Hungary be­fore be­ing moved to Al­tenrhein in Switzer­land, where the trains will be as­sem­bled.

They are due to be­gin en­ter­ing ser­vice in early 2020, to re­place Merseyrail’s age­ing Class 507 and ‘508’ fleet. They will be owned by lo­cal trans­port au­thor­ity Mersey­travel.

“We’re in good shape and in touch­ing dis­tance of the end of the de­sign phase, and man­u­fac­tur­ing the first bodyshell. The first train will then be as­sem­bled over the win­ter and will com­mence static test­ing in Switzer­land in Fe­bru­ary,” Mersey­travel’s Pro­gramme Di­rec­tor of Rolling Stock David Pow­ell told RAIL.

“All dy­namic test­ing will then take place on our own net­work once we take de­liv­ery of the first train next June, which will then en­ter ser­vice in Q1 2020.”

All 52 trains are ex­pected to have en­tered ser­vice by Q1 2021, with a new timetable in­tro­duced in May or De­cem­ber 2021 once all the old units have been with­drawn.

A spe­cial ‘mock-up’ of one of the new train car­riages and driv­ing cab is cur­rently on Mersey­side, of­fer­ing pas­sen­gers a glimpse of what to ex­pect. It in­cludes ac­tual work­ing doors and a slid­ing step, to demon­strate the tech­nol­ogy be­ing im­ple­mented to make the trains fully ac­ces­si­ble on a net­work that has a wide va­ri­ety of plat­form heights.

It is cur­rently at the Make.North Docks venue un­til Oc­to­ber. It will then be moved to Pa­cific Road Busi­ness Hub in Birken­head, and then the city’s main sta­tion at Lime Street in Novem­ber.

Pow­ell added: “We’re very pleased with the re­ac­tion. Things that have caught the eye in­clude our plat­form-train in­ter­face model. Peo­ple have also been sur­prised with how high and wide the in­te­rior of the car­riage feels, and the am­bi­ence which is very dif­fer­ence from most other Bri­tish sub­ur­ban mul­ti­ple units.

“It has 2+2 seat­ing and in­cludes air­line seats with gen­er­ous legroom. There are wider seats and a wider aisle, which have been cre­ated in our case through smarter de­sign. The seats are firm but comfy, and have been tried out by peo­ple of all shapes and sizes.”

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