The first of the new Class 777 trains for Merseyrail has left the Stadler factory to have its first test runs at Wegberg-Wildenrath.
Having completed its programme of static testing at the factory, the next stop is Siemens’ dedicated test track close to the German/Dutch border.
There, it will travel at speeds of up to 75mph as aspects such as ride comfort, braking performance and electromagnetic radiation are thoroughly tested.
Using a private track will minimise the need for testing and any associated disruption on the Merseyrail network itself. Although the Wildenrath test facility belongs to Siemens, several manufacturers test their new trains there and the staff are sworn to secrecy to prevent one manufacturer learning too much about another’s new products.
The trains are also not necessarily totally complete. The mechanical elements are all finished, but some of the tests are best carried out without parts of the interior as test equipment is fitted into the carriages.
The new train left the factory coupled to a freight locomotive. Converter wagons were also in the consist, before and after the new train. These are fitted with the same couplers as the Class 777 and also are connected-up to the freight train’s braking system, as those on the new electric multiple unit are not compatible.
Once dynamic testing is complete, the first unit should arrive in the UK in December. It will be stabled at Kirkdale as a base for further testing and to allow for driver training. The trains will begin to enter passenger service from 2020.
Merseytravel’s project director for the new rolling stock, David Powell, said: “With each engineering milestone, we’re getting closer to seeing these trains on our network.
“These trains are not only being keenly awaited by people in our city region but also by rail experts, aware of how game-changing these trains are for the industry.”
Matthias Hämmerle, project manager for Stadler, added: “These trains for the Liverpool City Region, are not ‘off the shelf’, but tailored to a very specific brief. Securing the acceptance of static testing for the first assembled train is a proud day for both our customer and everyone else involved.
“We look forward to continued working with our partners in Liverpool on the next stages of the project”.