Production of Merseyrail’s new £460m train fleet has reached a major milestone with the completion of the ‘bogies’ – structures with wheels attached that carry the bodyshells.
Swiss manufacturer Stadler says Merseytravel has completed its first inspection of the bogies, which are being made in Valencia in Spain. A total of 267 bogies will be made as part of the manufacture of 52 trains.
In the next few weeks, the Bogies will be transported to Switzerland and Poland, where they will be connected to bodyshells to create four-carriage trains.
All bogies are scheduled to be attached to the bodyshells by August 2020 in a process known in the rail industry as the ‘marriage’. Final assembly, which involves fitting the main vehicle components and the driver’s cab, started in October and is now continuing apace in Altenrhein, Switzerland.
In April 2019, the same process will begin in Siedlce, Poland. Stadler engineers will start attaching the driver’s cab to trains. This is a very symbolic stage in the process, bringing to life the overall appearance of the trains.
The first train will be ready for testing by the spring. Following a period of intensive assembly and testing, vehicles will be introduced for passengers from early 2020. Project manager, Matthias Hämmerle from Stadler, said: “The process of building trains is a series of landmark events, all of which have to be given the green light by the client.
“Securing authorisation for the bogies is just one of these landmark events, which ultimately will see brand new, technologically-sophisticated trains enhancing the customer experience and boosting the regional economy.”
The new trains will be an articulated four-car design and will offer 50% more capacity than the current fleet with some of the trains coming into service as long ago as 1978. Currently a three-carriage Merseyrail train has a maximum capacity for 303 people.
Each train will weigh 99 tonnes, 5.5 tonne weight reduction on the existing fleet, and will use 20% less energy. Faster acceleration and deceleration, which will allow for reduced journey times.
David Powell, rolling stock programme director at Merseytravel, added: “The use of Jacob’s bogies is unusual for the UK mainline railway, but Stadler’s compact, lightweight design with high installed power is an integral feature of our new fleet.”
And Andy Heath, managing director at Merseyrail, also said: “The project continues to take shape with this milestone in the production process and the continuation of platform upgrades at our 67 stations as we prepare for the new trains.
“It is an exciting reminder of how soon our passengers will be able to experience a transformational change in rail travel on our network.”