Renewal of the Merseyrail fleet
On 16 December, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority announced its intention to replace 59 Merseyrail PEP-derived trains with 52 Stadler bespoke trainsets equipped for ‘driver controlled operation’.
[Merseytravel reveals new £460m train fleet plans – with no train guards, ALISTAIR HOUGHTON, Liverpool Echo, 16 Dec 2016]
But the new trains will also see guards removed from trains, as each one will be controlled solely by its driver.
That means the jobs of more than 200 guards will cease to exist, though more than 60 new on-board customer service roles will be created.
Plans to introduce such driver-controlled trains on the Southern Railway network of commuter trains into London have led to a series of strikes and a bitter dispute between unions and train bosses.
Today, Southern commuters are enduring their third strike within a week as ASLEF and the RMT battle what they say is an unsafe way of operating trains.
Mayor Joe Anderson said he did not believe that safety on trains would be compromised with the new driver-only operation, highlighting the new trains’ improved CCTV and other improvements.
According to Merseytravel, “Roving Customer Service staff will be available on trains, targeted at key locations and times. This is in addition to other on-board staff which may include the British Transport Police, security staff, revenue protection officers and on-board cleaners as well as station staff, with all stations on the network staffed first to last train.”
Key features of the new trains:-
* More space for bikes, buggies, disabled passengers and luggage; intelligent air conditioning; a bright, open and airy saloon, and a mix of seating types.
* Easier to get on and off. This will be achieved through reducing the ‘gap’ between the train and platform through: a train body configured specifically for our network; lower train floors; platform and track improvements and a ‘sliding step’ from the train – this combination gives almost ‘level access’ in a first for the UK.
* On-board safety – the train will be a ‘safe space’ forming one continuous space with no dividing doors; CCTV with images broadcast within the train saloon and to the driver and control room; a direct link to the driver and control room; the driver visible through a transparent cab door; on-board customer service staff, supplementing other on-board staff and staffed stations.
* Door safety – there will be traffic light system door illuminations indicating when it’s safe to get on and off; sensitive door edges that will detect ‘the pull’ from something as narrow as a tie or finger, stopping the train from moving or bringing it to a stop.
* Wider aisles, larger areas at the doorways and many more grab handles, making the train much easier to move around and safer for standing passengers.