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Weekly Edition - Published  17 January 2016

 

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Another step towards new Merseyrail trains as bidder shortlist announced

THE shortlist of bidders that will go through to the next stage of procurement for new Merseyrail trains was announced Monday, 11 January 2015.  The initial tender process, launched in October 2015, saw bidders assessed in areas such as their capacity to deliver the work, their expertise and track record. The next stage of the process will see them make submissions specific to details of the Merseyrail project. The 5 shortlisted bidders are (in alphabetical order):-

Bombardier - With headquarters in Canada and a British base in Derby, they have been a leading provider in the UK market for many years and are currently supplying the new fleet for Crossrail

CAF - A Spanish company who have been active in the UK market since the introduction of the Heathrow Express fleet. They are currently providing the new coaches for the Caledonian sleeper service.

Mitsui - A major Japanese company who have teamed up with J-Trec, a Japanese train builder and France's Alstom. This team's UK work projects includes the Virgin Pendolinos.

Siemens - A German company, they have provided numerous fleets in the UK and have built up a sizeable British presence. They are currently building the new Thameslink fleet.

Stadler: - Based in Switzerland, they have provided trams for Croydon Tramlink.

Said Cllr Liam Robinson, Chair of Merseytravel:- "We are extremely pleased that our project has attracted the interest of leading names in the industry. All of our 5 candidates have extensive experience of providing trains, maintenance services and depots. They all have a strong international pedigree as well as a good track record here in the UK. This announcement marks an important next step in the project; keeping up the momentum and moving another step forward towards new trains on the Merseyrail network. Now we want the bidders to use their expertise to help shape our vision, demonstrating innovation and a real understanding of the importance of the network to the Liverpool City Region. A new fleet, and the associated works, is essential for providing services that people and business can rely on, as well as being a stimulus for further economic growth. As part of the process we'll be interested in how the bidders may be able to tap into the local labour market and make the most of UK based opportunities."

The tender documents are due to be released on 22 January 2016, with bids due back by the end of April 2016.  It is expected that a preferred bidder will be identified towards the end of 2016 and it will be at this point that City Region, along with the rest of Merseyside, leaders, through the Combined Authority, will be asked to commit to the project going ahead.

New trains by the early 2020's are considered the best option in meeting growing demand on the network and in supporting the City Region's economic ambitions, while also presenting the best value for the public purse. It follows the development of a detailed business case over many months which looked at all options from refurbished stock to new stock now or in the future.

The current fleet is approaching 40 years old, is amongst the oldest in the UK and is close to the end of its operational life. While still achieving high levels of performance and customer satisfaction, it is recognised that this will prove increasingly challenging and costly as the existing fleet ages. In addition, new trains that can carry more people and with shorter journey times will help meet growing demand on the network, of which parts are already close to capacity at peak times. 

Demand is increasing by 2.5% each year, with an overall 40% increase in passenger numbers expected by 2028. Some parts of the Merseyrail network are predicted to be way over capacity; 160% filled, by 2043.  A new set of trains is also considered the best option to support the delivery of the City Region's Long Term Rail Strategy (LTRS) by providing a fleet that could carry significantly more passengers and run on a potentially extended network within the next 30 years to places such as Warrington and Crewe.  The faster journey times and increased capacity would present a significant economic boost to the City Region, worth an estimated £70m per year and would stimulate the creation of around 1,000 jobs. The project is likely to cost around £400m and will include major infrastructure improvements at stations and depots, as well as major reinforcement of the power supply to the network.

The plans have been developed to ensure that there will be no additional costs to local Tax Payers, with costs recovered over the operational life of the new trains by leasing them to the commercial operator responsible for the Merseyrail network, currently Merseyrail Electrics. Merseytravel's initial investment will use a variety of funding mechanisms, including a rail reserve already established for this purpose.

 

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