Figures released today (Monday) by the Rail Delivery Group reveal a boost in the number of new train carriages coming on track by 2021.
Last October Britain’s railway, a partnership of the public and private sector, published its plan to change and improve rail services, committing to delivering 5,700 new carriages by 2021. Today’s figures reveal a further 1,300 carriages will be arriving on Britain’s railway by the early 2020s, bringing the total number to just over 7,000.
New carriages are part of the long-term plan of the partnership railway. In the plan, called In Partnership for Britain’s Prosperity, rail companies commit to improving customer satisfaction to remain the top-rated major railway in Europe. The latest figures show them going even further. The long-term plan will secure almost £85bn of additional economic benefits for Britain.
The new carriages represent an investment of at least £13.8bn by the private sector in rail. This is bolstering public investment in major upgrades to the railway infrastructure which, combined with new carriages, will enable the partnership railway to run more than 6,400 extra services each week by 2021, benefitting all parts of the country.
The partnership railway’s long-term rolling stock strategy, published later this spring, will say that the total number of carriages running on Britain’s railway is estimated to increase from 13,000 to 15,900 – an increase of 22 per cent.
The new carriages will mean the retirement of some of the oldest trains on the network with rolling stock that has more seats, Wifi, power points, improved accessibility, air-conditioning and, in the case of the Caledonian Sleeper, even double en-suite bedrooms.
Pacer trains, dating back to the 1980s, which operate in the north of England will be replaced with 281 new electric and diesel carriages with Wifi, power sockets and digital information screens. On Merseyrail, trains that are almost 40 years old will be replaced with state-of-the-art carriages with space for more people and sliding ramps that allow level boarding at each doorway.
The Caledonian Sleeper service will see the introduction of the first new sleeper trains in the UK for over 35 years. The fleet is designed to accommodate the modern-day traveller, whether for business or leisure. The carriages will have a range of accommodation including comfort seats, classic and club singles and doubles, and suites with double beds and ensuite, with fully accessible rooms available.
As well as a smoother, quieter ride, technology on the new carriages will improve reliability by enabling potential faults to be detected and fixed more quickly. Some will include digital screens to give passengers real-time information on connecting services and seat availability.
Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, which brings together train operators and Network Rail, said: ‘With thousands of new, state-of-the-art carriages coming on track over the next three years, the partnership railway’s long-term plan is transforming journeys up and down the country. These new carriages will enable rail companies to work together to deliver on their commitment of at least 6,400 extra services a week, better connecting communities and helping to boost local economies from Aberdeen all the way to Penzance.’
Malcolm Brown, chair of the industry’s Rolling Stock Strategy Steering Group, said: ‘Rail customers want modern, comfortable and reliable trains and the private and public sectors working together are delivering thousands of new carriages to improve journeys around the country. Private sector investment in new rolling stock orders are now at a historically high level and innovation by manufacturers will see technology utilised to make trains greener, more intelligent and more accessible than ever. Our priority is now to ensure that all passengers across the network benefit from this new rolling stock and the sustainable investment in existing trains through careful fleet management.’