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The New Merseyrail Trains: Liverpool goes Swiss

The Merseyrail network serves millions of passengers every year. The unassuming yellow trains will take you to seaside spots like West Kirby, New Brighton and Southport, while connecting the bustling Liverpool and Chester. It’s a lifeline for Merseyside and the Wirral, but it’s time for a change as the trains on the network reach their 45th birthday.

On January 23, 2023, Railsmartr witnessed that change for the first time, as we popped to Liverpool to sample one of the 53 new Swiss-built Merseyrail trains on their first day in service.

The first day

At the moment, there’s just one train running on the line up to Kirkby. This is the shortest line on the network, and keeps them close to their depot in Kirkdale in case anything goes wrong.

So that’s where we were off to! We headed for the 12:20 from Liverpool Central to Kirkby, operated by one of the new Stadler trains. This was the third ever departure from Liverpool for one of these trains, so there was still much excitement and anticipation among train geeks and regular passengers alike.

Finally, just a little late (the timetable is very tight on the Kirkby line), our shiny new Merseyrail train arrived:

one of the new merseyrail trains at liverpool central

First Impressions of the new Merseyrail trains

First impressions are that there’s certainly a ‘wow’ factor compared to looking at the old, boxy trains that run on Merseyrail at the moment. You could almost be fooled into thinking that it had come from the International Space Station rather than Kirkby!

The inside of the train is bright and airy, with plenty of seats. You’ll find all of the modern features you’d expect in 2023:

The only thing you need to be careful with is the sockets! If you’re sticking a three-pin plug in them, it goes in upside down. The bottom pins are actually USB ports. Within five minutes, we’d already witnessed someone trying to fit their phone charger into the wrong one.

As you can see in the left-hand photo above as well, there’s ‘airline’ style seats, too. On the old trains, you didn’t have much of a choice about sitting opposite someone on a busy train. Now, you have the option to have a little more privacy if you’re travelling alone or with someone else.

It also sounds daft but for the first time in many years, you can actually see the world go by! The older trains have a strange layout, where the ‘pockets’ that the doors open into have taken up most of the window view. Granted, Merseyrail isn’t the most scenic, but it’s nice to not be stuck looking at this:


This is the real game-changer. The new Merseyrail trains are the first trains in the UK to give completely step-free access being the train and platform. When they reach every station, a little step will pop out and completely bridge the gap. This means that wheelchair users and those who struggle with mobility can get on and off independently.

step free access on new merseyrail train

This was fantastic to see and will make the railways of Merseyside so much more accessible to everyone. As you can see, the doors also light up green when it’s safe to get on and off. This changes to red when it’s time to step back.

The wheelchair spaces include a small table, power sockets and an information screen:

777 wheelchair space

Elsewhere on the train, there are spaces for buggies, bikes and large luggage. This solves the issue of them taking up a wheelchair space and makes sure that everyone can use the new Merseyrail trains with ease.

Staying informed on new Merseyrail trains

From the moment we left Liverpool Central, it was clear that you wouldn’t be left in the dark about where you were or where you were going. Clear announcements would play before every station, and they’d tell you which line you were on while in the City Centre (Wirral or Northern).

It did get a little grating though, when we had one telling us to use the bins during the journey. These sort of announcements just cause everyone to tune out everything. Just keep them for the essentials, please!

Other than the (sometimes a little redundant) announcements, you’ll find screens throughout the train. Above every door, you’ll find ones like these, which change depending on where you are:

These are both above the doors and arranged along the carriage walls. You’ll also find more ‘traditional’ displays at the ends of the carriages. Put simply, if you look somewhere, you’ll find a screen telling you where the train is going!

Sticking these displays above the doors is a bit of a genius move, as it cuts out the classic ‘where is this train going?’ that someone will ask as they step on. Simply crank your neck up a few inches and your answer will be right there! It’s also great that they’ll tell you which side the doors will open on, particularly as platforms regularly swap sides on some lines.

Even little touches such as telling you which station has a toilet are great. As don’t forget that just like the older trains, these new Merseyrail trains don’t have anywhere to spend a penny. They’ll also tell you which stations are step-free, which brings us onto one of the most important things about the new Merseyrail trains…

Our verdict on the new Merseyrail trains

We aren’t exaggerating when we say that these will transform travel across Merseyside and beyond. For the first time, you can even see from one of the train to the other:

new merseyrail train interior

They’re brighter, they’re safer and they’ll still have a staff member on board to help, as well. The guards will be more visible on the train (as they don’t have to stay in the cab to operate the doors) and will have a new title of ‘Train Manager’.

Another thing we really liked was the fact that ‘perch’ seats have been scattered around so you don’t have to stand at busy times:

We’d definitely recommend heading to the ‘bendy’ bits of the train between the carriages if you’re struggling to find somewhere to perch. They’re quite well hidden and people are usually less keen on standing far away from the doors!

Our impression was that both passengers and staff alike are thrilled to see the new Merseyrail trains running. Everyone had a smile on their face and it’s clear that they’re a train to be proud of. Finally, we can’t deny that they’re great-looking compared to the trains that came before them:

You can book your tickets to try the new trains on Railsmartr today. We don’t charge any booking fees, admin fees, refund fees or any fees at all, for that matter.