Merseyrail receives the go-ahead for a new fleet of trains by 2020
After of an extensive procurement process which began in October 2015, the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority has given approval for the purchase of a new fleet of trains for Merseyrail. These will replace the current rolling stock which, at 40 years of age, is the oldest in the UK.

The £460m contract to build and maintain the trains has gone to Swiss manufacturer, Stadler, and the stock will be publically owned by Merseytravel.

The trains should come into service by the end of 2020, and are being designed specifically for the Merseyrail network. They are expected to increase capacity by 60% while cutting journey times by 10%, and will have the capability to run beyond the Merseyrail boundaries to places like Skelmersdale, Wrexham and Warrington in the future.

As with many modern fleets, the driver rather than a guard will be responsible for opening and closing the doors and dispatching the train. New customer service roles will be created, based in the train saloon, to assist and advise passengers.

The new train project includes infrastructure upgrades to power supplies, platforms and track, as well as refurbishment of the depots at Kirkdale and Birkenhead North.

HS2 train procurement process gets under way
The procurement process for rolling stock for HS2 was launched by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling on 20 January 2017, with the publication of the Periodic Indicative Notice (PIN) pre-advising the formal start of the process in spring this year.

The £2.75bn contract to design, build and maintain a fleet of up to 60 high speed trains for Britain’s HS2 network, is expected to be awarded in 2019.

An industry event is planned for 27 March to provide information about the bidding requirements and process, and the prequalification questionnaire (PQQ) pack will follow. Formal invitations to tender are to be issued in 2018, and the contract awarded at the end of 2019.

The new trains will need to meet HS2’s design and performance requirements as well as stringent standards for passenger experience, noise reduction, and environmental sustainability.

Chris Rayner, HS2 Ltd managing director – railway operations, said: “We are looking for a supplier who is capable of delivering and maintaining some of the world’s most advanced rolling stock, with designs putting the passenger at their heart to ensure seamless, accessible, fast and reliable journeys.”

The successful bidder will maintain the fleet from a dedicated rolling stock depot planned for Washwood Heath in Birmingham. The site will also be home to the HS2 Network Control Centre.

With Royal Assent for the Phase One Hybrid Bill expected shortly and building work due to start on the Birmingham to London section of HS2 in the spring, 2017 will see HS2 – Europe’s largest infrastructure project – move from planning to construction.

Future rolling stock contracts will follow for the second phase of HS2, which is planned to go into operation in 2033.

Hydrogen Council launched at Davos
Some 13 leading transport and energy companies have come together and launched the global Hydrogen Council in Davos. Its aim is to promote the use of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies to aid the transition to a low carbon and sustainable economy.

Council members comprise Air Liquide, Alstom, Anglo American, BMW GROUP, Daimler, ENGIE, Honda, Hyundai, Kawasaki, Royal Dutch Shell, The Linde Group, Total and Toyota.

Alstom CEO Henri Poupart-Lafarge said: “In Europe, the transportation sector is now the second biggest producer of emissions. Rail transportation is the cleanest and safest form of mass transportation and needs to become even cleaner. Hydrogen traction is a revolution as it is 100% emission free.”

Alstom launched the hydrogen fuel cell powered Coradia iLint in September last year. The first loco goes into operation on the Buxtehude-Bremervörde-Bremerhaven- Cuxhaven line in Lower Saxony in December this year.