Merseyrail will deploy Class 777 trains from the new £500m fleet on the Ormskirk line in time for the Grand National. Tony McDonough reports
Racegoers attending the three-day Grand National Festival next week will be able to travel to Aintree Racecourse on the new Merseyrail Class 777 trains.
Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram confirmed on Thursday that units from the £500m fleet will be operational on the Ormskirk line from Monday, April 10. This is in time for the Grand National Festival which runs from April 13 to 15.
In January Merseyrail introduced the first of the new trains onto the Kirkby Line. Mr Rotheram told LBN he hoped they would be introduced onto the Ormskirk line in time for the Grand National which attracts tens of thousands of people to the city region.
Some early teething problems on the Kirkby services put that aspiration in some doubt. However, Mr Rotheram now says the roll-out will go ahead.
“The day that passengers travelling on the Ormskirk line – including myself – have been waiting for is finally here and our new trains are ready to welcome them on board,” he said.
“We’ve been working tirelessly to make sure the roll out of our new trains goes as smoothly as possible. I’m delighted that we’re on track to launch them on the Ormskirk line at the same time that we’re gearing up to host the Grand National.
“Visitors from around the world flock to our region for Aintree races every year and this is our chance to show them the very best that our area has to offer – including some of the best trains in the land.”
Earlier this week Merseyrail announced there would be an amended timetable on some Northern Line services during the festival. Passengers should check the Merseyrail website, social media or app to check train times.
In the last few weeks a small number of services have been cancelled to facilitate driver training. Although there will still be driver training taking place on other parts of the network, the full timetable will now be reinstated on the Southport and Ormskirk line.
Mr Rotheram added: “Designed in consultation with local people, they’re some of the most accessible and sophisticated in the entire country.
“They have great new features such as level access with sliding step technology, more room for bikes and wheelchairs, phone charging and wi-fi onboard.”