Merseyrail is celebrating ten years since the 25-year concession was awarded in 2003 to Merseytravel, and Serco and Abellio became 50-50 joint venture shareholders of the rail operator.
The occasion was marked with the naming of a 507 016 train at Rock Ferry station in the Wirral at an event attended by senior stakeholders last week. The name plate, affixed to a 507/508, reads 'Merseyrail - celebrating the first ten years 2003-2013'. It was unveiled by Merseyrail's managing director, Maarten Spaargaren and Merseytravel chair, Councillor Liam Robinson. The first train to enter service under the present concession arrangements ten years ago also left from Rock Ferry station.
Merseytravel is the transport authority that holds the Merseyrail concession and Abellio is the international subsidiary of Nederlandse Spoorwegen.
Maarten Spaargaren said: "Merseyrail has come on a lot over the last ten years and it's largely down to excellent working relations with Merseytravel and our two shareholders, without whom our success would not have been possible. It's fitting, I think, that we mark this happy occasion with the naming of a train, which will act as a reminder in years to come of some of the great things we did over the first decade."
Between 2003 and 2013, Merseyrail, in partnership with Merseytravel, Abellio and Serco, is proud to have achieved:
Enhanced passenger satisfaction
- 82% in autumn 2002 compared with 92% in autumn 2012 (National Passenger Survey, Passenger Focus)
- The current figure is 92% (spring 2013)
- Merseyrail now ranks among top three UK rail operators
Significant growth in passenger numbers
- There were 27 million passengers in 2002/03 compared with 33 million in 2011/12
- A moving annual average of 91.5% in 2002/03 compared with 95.5% in 2012/13
- Consistently high monthly figures of around 96%
Increased fleet reliability
- 5,800 miles in July 2003 compared with 10,100 miles in July 2013
Improved stations and trains
- Continuous programme of improvements, e.g. current refurbishment of loop line stations, 2012-2015
- Mtogo; Bike&Go; Liverpool South Parkway
- Far fewer assaults; fewer incidents of trespassing; safer parking and secure stations
Better train presentation
- Train cleanliness in the National Passenger Survey has gone from 48% pre-concession to 78% to date
Corporate Social Responsibility
- Station adoption schemes; charity of the year initiative; partnership with Archbishop Beck school; Merseyrail Sound Station; train naming
Jonathan Brown, partnership director at Serco, commented: "The performance at Merseyrail in the first ten years of the franchise has been truly transformational. This has now created a platform where further exciting opportunities can be considered for the next 15 years, and beyond."
Dominic Booth, managing director of Abellio UK, added: "It's been an honour to work so closely with Merseytravel over the past ten years to help make Merseyrail a company which now delivers so much more for passengers, and which is so closely integrated with the communities it serves. It currently boasts rates of punctuality and reliability which are among the highest in the UK, and is extremely popular with passengers, who will continue to benefit from further innovation and major investments in the future"
Looking forward, there are several large projects in the offing.
Towards the end of the decade, Merseytravel plans to replace the Merseyrail fleet. Merseyrail is supporting the local transport authority in this project, which is still at a very early stage. Before that, the existing fleet will be reliveried to make the overall appearance of trains fresher and brighter.
The £40 million programme to refurbish five underground stations is now well underway, with three stations, Liverpool Central, James Street and Lime Street, now complete. Liverpool Central, the flagship station, underwent a £20 overhaul last year and received many plaudits. Network Rail plans to upgrade Moorfields and Hamilton Square over the next couple years.
Merseyrail is also working on what is called the 'door-to-door journey' ? what happens to passengers immediately before and immediately after they use their trains ? to ensure that not only do customers have a good experience on Merseyrail, but that travel before and after is quick, straightforward and enjoyable. An example of this is the recently launched Bike & Go cycle scheme introduced in the summer.
Alongside Merseytravel, Merseyrail is looking at new ways to pay for tickets, giving customers choice and flexibility ? what's known in the industry as 'smart ticketing'.
Councillor Liam Robinson, chair of Merseytravel, commented: "The first ten years has shown what local input and oversight and a close working relationship with a rail operator can achieve. The travelling experience has been transformed and this can be seen through consistently high performance and customer satisfaction scores and award-winning stations. The next ten years will be about taking this service to the next level with a clear set of customer focused improvements to rolling stock and stations."
And finally, to thank customers for their continued support, Merseyrail held a birthday party at Liverpool Central station in the summer, giving away ten sets of prizes for customers. The first prize was ten years' free travel on the network.