The current fleet of 59 three-car EMUs is nearly 40 years old and needs replacement. The plan also includes work to modernise train depots and improve power supply on the 750V dc third-rail electrification system.

If the committee approves the project at its meeting on October 1, Merseytravel will invite tenders for a new fleet of dual-voltage EMUs. Merseytravel would expect to select a preferred bidder within one year of inviting bids and hopes to receive the first train in 2019.

Merseytravel predicts a 40% increase in passenger traffic by 2028, and expects to accommodate this growth by operating trains with a higher capacity than the current fleet and by cutting journey times so that trains can be used more intensively.