Northern’s Merseyside depot gets ministerial opening
A derelict train depot in Merseyside has been re-opened for Northern’s use in a joint project between the operator and Network Rail
Transport minister Theresa Villiers visited Northern Rail’s new Merseyside depot in May to officially open the new facility. The Allerton Train Care Depot, which has been in operation since December, was developed as a joint project between Network Rail and Northern at a cost of £10.6m. Significant time and cost savings were made by running the design and construction work in parallel, as far as was possible. The once derelict site now employs 46 staff.
Rail Minister Theresa Villiers says: ‘Allerton Depot is an exceptional example of what can be achieved when rail industry partners work together to realise a common goal. By taking a flexible approach to processes, significant time and money savings were made benefiting passengers and fare payers and the wider local economy as the opening of the depot has created 46 jobs.’
The need for a new depot arose when Northern gained 60 additional carriages to increase capacity in the December 2011 timetable. Allerton Depot was previously owned by Axiom Rail and was bought by Network Rail for Northern’s use in 2008.
Barry Graham, Northern’s business development director, is full of praise for Network Rail’s speedy work in getting the depot ready for use in time to look after the 60 additional carriages allocated to Northern in the DfT’s Rolling Stock Plan.
‘There’s a lot of interest in Network Rail’s overall efficiency and industry process against the background of McNulty and when we do “lessons learned” as a result of this experience, I think that what we’ll suggest is that what happened at Allerton should become the norm in the industry – a willingness to focus on achieving the objective.’
‘We started talking to Axiom with a view to us making some use of that depot when the fleet increased in 2008,’ Graham explains. ‘But before we were able to complete those talks Axiom sold the depot. We suggested to Network Rail that it would be helpful if they were able to buy Allerton for the nation, so to speak. But they said it would take until April 2014 to get it ready to use.’
‘We threw down the gauntlet and said, “Well we need it for 2011!”’
The newly acquired carriages are Class 322s, which had come from Scotland; Class 150s from London Midland; and the return of Northern’s Class 142s that had been lent to First Great Western.
The depot will be home to 28 Class 156s – a mixture of Porterbrook and Angel sets – with between 9 and 12 units coming in each night for refuelling, cleaning and general running repairs. The more indepth A and B examinations are carried out in rotation, with one A examination undertaken every night and three B examinations carried out each week.
Allerton has a carriage wash, under frame cleaning facility, fuelling roads, a raised pit and a flushing apron. A wheel lathe will be in place by mid-July, followed by an engine drop pit and two-ton power master jib crane by the end of the month. This will allow heavy components, such as engines and gearboxes, to be changed.
Jo Kaye, Network Rail’s route managing director, adds: ‘It is really good to see a rail asset that has lain dormant for a number of years brought back into operational use to help meet the ever growing demand for rail travel.
‘We have gone to great lengths to make the depot as “green” as possible by including such things as recycling old concrete walkways, an exterior washer which recycles up to 80 per cent of the water it uses, rain water harvesting to a 5,000 litre tank, energy efficient lighting and radiant heaters.
‘Now Northern Rail has one of the most environmentally friendly train care depots in the country.’