Electric dreams: the Liverpool City Region’s new publicly owned battery trains begin final testing

  • The publicly owned trains will be the first of their kind to operate in passenger service

  • Game-changing technology could help deliver Mayor’s Merseyrail For All vision for network expansion across the Liverpool City Region and beyond

  • Battery trains will serve the new £80m Headbolt Lane station

Mayor Steve Rotheram has announced that the first of the Liverpool City Region’s new publicly owned battery powered trains will begin final testing on the network this week.

The fleet is now ready to enter final tests and driver training between Kirkby and the town’s new £80m station at Headbolt Lane, due to open later this year, which will be the second new station opened by Mayor Rotheram since his election.

Mayor Steve Rotheram with one of the new 777 train units

Once testing is complete, the trains, which deliver an 80% reduction in energy consumption, will be the first battery powered trains of their type in the country to operate in passenger service, cementing the city region’s place at the forefront of pioneering rail technology and innovation.

Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said:

“This is not only a massive milestone for our area, but for the entire country, as our new publicly owned, battery powered trains enter final testing.

“Our trains will be the first of their kind in the country, fitted with pioneering battery technology that will help us to significantly reduce our carbon footprint and pave the way for a cleaner, greener, and better-connected London-style transport network. This is the gold standard of public transport – and it’s the very least that our residents deserve.

“As a Kirkby native, I’ve heard talk about a new station at Headbolt Lane for as long as I can remember. Thanks to devolution, we’ve invested £80m to turn that dream into delivery. Extending our train network is a key part of my Merseyrail for All pledge to connect previously underserved parts of our community to our rail network – bringing them closer to new opportunities and each other.

We are enormously grateful to passengers for their patienceduring this final testing stage but I can guarantee them that their new battery powered trains – and their brand new station – will be worth the wait!”

It follows the launch of the region’s new £500m fleet earlier this year. Designed in consultation with the public, the new fleet is among the most sophisticated and accessible in the country featuring slide step technology and other smart features, as well as additional space for wheelchair users and prams.

The battery technology, which enables the trains to run without the need for a third rail, will initially be fitted on seven of the city region’s state-of-the-art class 777 trains.

It marks a significant step towards the realisation of the Mayor’s Merseyrail for All ambition to connect more people across the region to more opportunities via an extended rail network.

The technology could enable the Merseyrail network to extend across all six city region boroughs to places like Rainhill in St Helens, and Widnes in Halton, including possible links to places such as Wrexham, Warrington and Runcorn.

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