The shortlisted bidders include:

  • Bombardier
  • CAF
  • A consortium of Mitsui, Alstom, and J-Trec, Japan
  • Siemens, and
  • Stadler Rail

Expressions of interest were invited for the contract in October and tender documents will be issued to shortlisted bidders on January 22. Bids are due to be submitted by the end of April and a preferred bidder will be selected at the end of the year. At this point, Merseytravel will ask Liverpool City Region Combined Authority to give its final go-ahead for the order, which has an estimated total value of around £400m.

Merseyrail's current fleet of 59 three-car class 507 and 508 EMUs is nearly 40 years old and needs replacement, while passenger numbers are increasing at around 2.5% per year with a 40% increase in ridership projected by 2028. Ridership on some parts of the network is forecast to exceed capacity by 60% by 2043.

Merseytravel says new trains are the best option to support delivery of the City Region's Long-Term Rail Strategy (LTRS), meeting its objectives for increasing capacity and extending the network to towns such as Warrington and Crewe.