Transport authority delays introduction of new £500m train fleet

New Merseyrail fleet

Liverpool City Region transport authority Merseytravel has confirmed that the phased introduction into service of its new £500m fleet of trains for the Merseyrail network will not begin this year.

It said this is due to ongoing challenges as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

A spokesperson said: “We had hoped to be in a position towards the end of this year to give more clarity about when we might start to see our new trains come into service.

“Unfortunately, as there is still so much uncertainty surrounding the pandemic and what might happen over the next three to six months we are not able to do so at this time.

“While we appreciate this is disappointing news, we are doing everything we can to put a revised schedule in place.”

During the past 10 months, the pandemic has affected a number of workstreams and disrupted activity including manufacturing, testing and critical European supply chains.

This has had a knock-on effect on the rest of the programme, said Merseytravel.

Despite the challenges, it said real progress has been made in many areas with train testing on the Merseyrail network now well advanced and power supply upgrades due for completion in the new year.

The spokesperson added: “Our focus is on driving this project forward and we hope to provide further updates regarding the introduction of the new trains as soon as possible.”

The fleet was due to have been phased into service throughout 2020, following the delay of a previous targeted introduction in 2019 due to technical problems. also reported in September that transport leaders were still yet to agree a deal with train drivers’ union Aslef to operate the new trains.

A Merseytravel spokesperson said today: “At this time, no deal has been reached as the financial impacts of the current and ongoing pandemic are yet to be fully assessed. Further talks will take place at the appropriate time.”