£500m train fleet arrives on Merseyrail Wirral line

Train operator Merseyrail introduces trains from the new £500m Class 777 fleet onto Wirral for the first time to coincide with the start of the Open Golf Championship. Tony McDonough reports

One of the first Class 777 trains to operate on the Merseyrail Wirral line. Image from Merseytravel video


Merseyrail has introduced its new £500m Class 777 train fleet in Wirral as the Open Golf Championship gets under way at Royal Liverpool.

Golf’s biggest global tournament is being held this week at the Hoylake venue and around 250,000 fans, many of them from overseas, are expected to flock to the course between now and Sunday.

Liverpool City Region Combined Authority has acquired the 52-strong Class 777 fleet from Swiss manufacturer Stadler. Passengers were able to step on board for the first time in January on the Kirkby line. This was followed weeks later by the Ormskirk line.

Now the units have been introduced onto the Wirral branch of the network for the first time and will be running between Liverpool Central and Hoylake this week. Merseyrail has laid on extra services for the duration of the Open Championship.

Merseyrail serves four destinations from Liverpool on the Wirral line – Chester, Ellesmere Port, West Kirby and New Brighton.

However, LBN reported last week that Hunts Cross to Southport one the Northern Line will be the last route to see the trains.

Despite extensive work to upgrade the platforms for the new trains across the network back in 2018 and 2019, there is still an issue with the platform at Southport which needs to be resolved before the new trains are able to call there.

A spokesperson for Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, which has acquired the new trains, told LBN last week: “The Ormskirk line is finished so we’ll be looking at the Wirral line next, followed by Southport – more details to follow nearer the time.

“There are some works at Southport that need to be completed but that’s all part of the plan.”

In May Merseyrail announced that it would increase the frequency of trains between Liverpool and Southport during the summer months to meet demand from day trippers.

Earlier this month battery-powered versions of the new trains were undergoing their final testing on the network. They will start serving the new £80m Headbolt Lane station at Kirkby this year.

In December 2022 LBN reported that one of the new trains travelled for 135km using a battery. In previous tests the trains had managed just 32km. This breakthrough means the Merseyrail network can be extended without the need for expensive electrification.

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