posted on 24th Jan 2023 06:39
Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram has hailed on Monday 23 January 2023 as a “massive day, not just for our area, but for the entire country” as the first of the region’s new 500 million GBP trains came into passenger service for the first time. There was a huge sense of excitement as Mayor Rotheram was joined by passengers, residents and rail enthusiasts alike on the Kirkby line to mark this landmark occasion that sees the half a billion-pound investment in rail services come to life.
Commenting on the launch of the new fleet Mayor Steve Rotheram said: “This is a massive day, not just for our area, but for the entire country, as we launch the UK’s first publicly-owned trains in a generation into service for the first time. Alongside the work we’re doing on buses, active travel and integrated ticketing, we’re bringing our transport network into the 21st century. Designed in consultation with local people, they’re some of the most accessible and sophisticated in the entire country, with great new features like level access with sliding step technology, more room for bikes and wheelchairs, phone charging and Wi-Fi onboard. Today marks the start of the phased rollout, with the Ormskirk line next to be introduced. The rest of the network across both the Northern and Wirral lines will follow later in the year."
Following the successful introduction of the first of the new Class 777 EMUs on 23 January, further timetable changes are being made to the Kirkby line to help accelerate the implementation of the ground-breaking new fleet of trains onto this part of the Merseyrail network. Starting from Monday 30 January, the new trains are in service on the Kirkby line from 06.13 h and continue until 19.35 h. The Kirkby line service is being served by a mixture of old and new fleet until driver training has been completed on this part of the network. The Class 777s will be in service from Monday to Saturday but will not yet be used on Sundays.
Passengers need to be aware that this means there will be cancellations of some services on Monday - Saturday for the foreseeable future. There will be three trains per hour running from 07.00 h, until the normal half-hourly evening schedule which runs from 19.13 h to the end of service. A total of 18 units are now in the UK for testing.
The new fleet has been purchased by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority for local residents. It has been responsible for delivering the project which includes the 53 strong fleet, major infrastructure works such as platform upgrades, new maintenance depot and power supply works works, in partnership with train manufacturer Stadler, train operator Merseyrail and Network Rail.