Select Committee on Transport Written Evidence

Memorandum by Merseyrail (FOR 114)



  Merseyrail is a unique concession in the UK as the role of the SRA has been delegated by Parliament to the Public Transport Executive (Merseytravel) and the concession agreement is between the operator and Merseytravel. Also, the length of the concession is 25 years from 20 July 2003 with review dates along the way, allowing both Merseytravel and the operator to take the long view.

  The concession is operated by Merseyrail Electrics (2002) Ltd, a 50/50 Joint Venture company between Serco and NedRailways. The new operator (branded Merseyrail) operates the Wirral Line and the Northern Line.

  Some key facts are:

    —  75 route miles, outer termini at Southport, Ormskirk, Kirkby, Hunts Cross on the Northern Line, and New Brighton, West Kirby, Chester and Ellesmere Port on the Wirral Line.

    —  3rd rail electrification (750 v dc).

    —  Core city centre underground network, including 6.5 miles in tunnels and five underground stations.

    —  Underground section includes the original Mersey railway tunnel opened in 1886.

    —  Approximately 100,000 passenger journeys per weekday or 30 million passenger journeys per annum.

    —  Nearly 50% of passengers are daily users.

    —  67 stations of which 66 are managed by Merseyrail.

    —  One of the most intensively used networks in the UK with over 780 train services daily (Mon-Fri).

    —  Clockface, regular interval timetable (15 minute frequencies, increasing to 5 minutes on city centre sections).

    —  Approximately 1,100 staff.

    —  59 electric multiple units leased from Angel Trains.

    —  Major refurbishment of entire rolling stock fleet in progress, financed and initiated by the PTE Merseytravel to be completed by the end of 2004.

    —  Current PPM (period 7) 95.6%; moving annual average 93.2%.

  Merseyrail is an urban network of vital importance to the transport infrastructure of Liverpool and Merseyside. In view of the ongoing regeneration of the city and the anticipated developments related to the Cultural Capital of Europe award for 2008, rail will play a major role in the economic life of the region and be a vital part in the urban transport network which, thanks to the efforts of Merseytravel, is already "multi-modal".

  Merseytravel has recently started the bidding process for the Merseytram project, making it possible to further integrate transport modes in the city and connect parts of the city which are not currently well served with high quality urban transport. Merseyrail fully supports this addition to the cities infrastructure and the opportunities it will offer for further integration.


  Merseyrail is a firm believer in a partnership approach. In our opinion, the fragmentation of the UK rail industry has been a factor in the relatively poor performance and the slow recovery after the turmoil of the Hatfield accident. Our partnership approach has been evident throughout the bidding process when the Serco/NedRailways bid team and the Merseytravel team worked closely together, within the rules of the bidding process, and established a common purpose for the concession. We are convinced that the local focus of Merseytravel and their sense of "ownership" has been a major factor in the successful bidding process, which was completed on schedule and without delays or material changes in procedure.

  We believe that the fact that some Serco/NedRailways key managers who were part of the bid team (including the Managing Director) have taken on operational roles in the concession, will build on the partnership with Merseytravel and ensure delivery of the programme as outlined in the bid.

  Merseytravel and Merseyrail have established an open relationship and are able to communicate quickly and effectively to discuss issues before they become adversarial. To this end, we have given the key Merseytravel officers the same pagers issued to Merseyrail managers to keep them informed in real time of operational matters.

  Partnership should be more than a joint letter of intent between two or more parties; it is a genuine belief that in the rail industry no single partner can perform without the involvement of others. In our opinion, it is worth investing time, money and effort in helping partners to achieve their goals to help us as an operator to improve in the longer term. An example of this is our approach to the possessions which Network Rail and their contractors need to carry out maintenance and renewals of the infrastructure. Together with Merseytravel, we believe that allowing more time for this activity by replacing some train services with buses late at night on specific days, will benefit Network Rail to work more efficiently and achieve their targets but will also help us as an operator in the long term to improve PPM.

  Any Train Operating Company is judged on its performance in terms of PPM. In our view, it is important to be able to be involved in all of the factors which influence this performance either through genuine partnerships or by controlling these factors direct. An example of direct control is the maintenance of our fleet which for both light and heavy maintenance is carried out in our own depot after winning the tender for this work recently. Another example is the installation of our own wheel lathe at our maintenance depot which will obviate the need to contract wheel turning out to others and increases the availability of our rolling stock.

  In view of the recent developments in infrastructure maintenance, the nature of the Merseyrail network and our in-house expertise, we are keen to explore the possibilities with Network Rail and Merseytravel of vertical integration of the network. We stress that ownership is not an issue but control over factors which influence PPM is.

  We have identified the security of passengers and staff as a priority for the concession and are working hard to put in place a comprehensive package of measures to improve the actual situation and, just as important, the perception of our (potential) passengers. To this end, we believe that a partnership with our own staff (special constable scheme, staff presence in the evenings, electronic gating etc), British Transport Police, local authorities (anti social behaviour orders) and others is vital.

  We have recently taken some of these partners to the Netherlands to look at examples of such partnerships and their (beneficial) effect on security on trains and in stations. We will be introducing the first measures from the middle of January 2004 and expect to have the full range of measures in place by the end of 2004.


  As a result of the history of train operators on Merseyside (BR, MTL, Arriva), the emphasis of the TUPE transferred staff of Merseyrail is on compliance with the franchise or concession agreement. We believe that in the new situation whereby the revenue risk has transferred to the operator and is no longer with Merseytravel as it was before, more than complying with the concession agreement is needed to increase the patronage and improve the passenger experience. We are currently in the process of identifying the cultural change programme needed to achieve this change of focus (where are we now, where do we want to get to and how do we get there).

  In the meantime, we have started on some activities which have a direct customer benefit but are not formally part of the concession agreement. An example is the "deep cleaning" of all of our existing rolling stock for the remainder of their un-refurbished state (until the end of 2004 for some units) at our own cost (approximately £100,000). We have completed this exercise for approximately 50% of the fleet at the rate of one unit per day.

What will happen on Merseyrail in the short, medium and long term?


  Stabilise and sustain current performance levels

  Completion of door modifications programme on rolling stock

  Completion of extensive refurbishment of rolling stock financed and initiated by Merseytravel

  New uniforms for all customer facing staff (completed within two weeks of start of concession)

  Re-branding to Merseyrail

  Extension of multimodal tickets beyond the Merseyside boundaries (completed on 29 September 2003)

Within the first few years:

  Improved reliability of rolling stock by implementing various engineering modifications

  Improved maintenance of rolling stock (Reliability Centred Maintenance)

  Improved cleaning of stations and trains

  Introduction of Security Improvement Package (eg Penalty Fare by January 2004)

  Introduction of better station facilities (Customer Information, Retail etc)

  Equip guards with palm top computers

  Redesign integrated control center (Sandhills)

Long term:

  Develop, in partnership with Merseytravel, "one single integrated public transport network that is accessible to everyone"

  Procure new rolling stock

  Introduce six trains per hour across the Merseyrail network

  Extend the Merseyrail network


    —  Merseyrail is vital to the urban and transport infrastructure of Liverpool and Merseyside.

    —  Genuine partnerships are vital to take the industry to the next level.

    —  Control, either through partnership or direct, over factors which influence PPM and other indicators is required.

    —  TOC culture needs to change from compliance management to customer focus.

October 2003

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