The Anonymous Widower

Could Merseyrail’s Class 777 Trains Run As Tram-Trains On The Manchester Metrolink?

Look at the main dimensions of the Stadler Class 777 train destined for Merseyrail  and the current M5000 tram of the Manchester Metrolink. I have also added the dimensions of the Stadler Class 399 tram-train, that is running on the Sheffield Supertram network.

Class 777 train

  • Width – 2.82 metres
  • Height – 3.82 metres
  • Floor Height – 0.96 metres
  • Overall Length – 64.98 metres
  • Capacity – 190 seats and 302 standing – 492 total
  • Operating Speed – 75 mph


  • Width – 2.65 metres
  • Height – 3.67 metres
  • Floor Height – 0.90 metres
  • Overall Length – 28.4 metres
  • Double Length – 56.8 ,metres
  • Capacity – 60 or 66 seats and 146 standing – 206 or 212 total
  • Operating Speed – 50 mph

Class 399 tram-train

  • Width – 2.65 metres
  • Height – 3.72 metres
  • Floor Height – 0.425 metres
  • Overall Length – 37.2 metres
  • Capacity – 96 seats and 140 standing – 236  total
  • Operating Speed – 62 mph


  1. Vehicle width and height could probably be incorporated on the same track
  2. The floor heights of the Class 777 train and the M5000 are surprisingly close,
  3. The floor height of the low-floor Class 399 tram-train is lower and wouldn’t allow step-free access from platform to tram on the Metrolink network.
  4. A double M5000 and a Class 777 train have similar lengths.
  5. A double M5000 has 86% of the capacity of a Class 777 train.

A Class 777 train looks to be able to go anywhere that a double M5000 tram can go and be able to give the same quality of passenger access.

Can double M5000 trams use the whole of the Metrolink network?

Power Supply

Around Manchester and Liverpool there are the following types of electrification.

  • 25 KVAC overhead – Connecting major cities and on the West Coast Main Line.
  • 750 VDC overhead – Manchester Metrolink
  • 750 VDC third-rail – Merseyrail

In the future it is intended that Class 777 trains will be able to handle.

  • 25 KVAC overhead
  • 750 VDC third-rail

It should also be noted that Class 399 tram-trains, which are also built by Stadler can handle.

  • 25 KVAC overhead
  • 750 VDC overhead

I wouldn’t be surprised to find, that Stadler can produce a Class 777 train, that could handle these voltages.

  • 25 KVAC overhead
  • 750 VDC overhead
  • 750 VDC third-rail

It’s all about the electrical systems on the train, but Stadler probably have the solutions in their boxes of tricks.

I very much feel it would possible for a version of a Class 777 train with an additional battery to do the following.

  • Run as a train on the Merseyrail network. using 750 VDC third-rail.
  • Run as a train between Otmskirk and Preston using a mixture of battery power and 25 KVAC overhead.
  • Run as a train between Kirkby and Wigan using the battery.
  • Run as a double tram on the Manchester Metrolink using 750 VDC overhead.
  • Run as a tram-train to extend the Manchester Metrolink using a mixture of battery power and 25 KVAC overhead.

Class 777 trains might even be able to run on the Sheffield Supertram network. But they might be too long and would not be able to provide step-free access from platform to tram, without modification of trains and/or platforms.

Poasible Routes

Just about anywhere a Manchester Metrolink M5000 tram or a four-car electric or diesel multiple unit can run.

Thjis article on Railway Gazette is entitled Battery Trial Planned For New EMU Fleet.

This is the first sentence.

The sixth of the 52 four-car 750 V DC third rail electric multiple-units which Stadler is to supply for Merseyrail services around Liverpool is to be fitted with a 5 tonne battery to test the business case for energy storage.

A five tonne battery will soon be able to have a capacity of 500 kWh, which should be able to give the train a range of fifty miles on battery power.

This would more than cover the thirty miles without electrification between Altrincham and Chester, where the battery could be recharged.


I am in no doubt that Merseyrail’s Class 777 trains, could run as tram-trains on the Manchester Metrolink.

But then, Stadler don’t do ordinary and obvious!.

Why should they?

There must also be an advantage to Manchester Metrolink and Merseyrail, if they were using the same or similar vehicles for their public transport networks.



September 18, 2019 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , ,


  1. The on street and new build sections of Metrolink have some pretty tight turns and M5000 trams have a minimum curve radius of 25m.

    I can’t find the figure for BR Class 777, but I suspect it is a lot greater – ergo they won’t go around the corners 😦

    Comment by R. Mark Clayton | September 19, 2019 | Reply

    • The Class 777 trains are articulated with an average section length of sixteen metres with five bogies. I wouldn’t be surprised to be told, these trains could go round tight curves. They will need that capability, if Stadler are going to propose the trains for the new fleet for the Tyne and Wear Metro.

      Comment by AnonW | September 19, 2019 | Reply

    • I think length could be a bigger problem. Can all platforms on Metrolink take a double tram?

      If you get this, do all M5000 have step-free access between tram and platform?

      Comment by AnonW | September 19, 2019 | Reply

      • AFAIK all current Metrolink stops can take a double tram. Moseley Street could not, but was removed.

        New build Metrolink platforms have step free access and very small gaps between tram and edge. Inherited stations often do not, however there are humps and marked wheelchair access points when this is the case.

        There are some ridiculously tight turns on Metrolink, with permanent speed limits as low as 8mph.

        This is probably the most exciting one as a derailment due to overspeed could drop the tram into the canal over 10m below.,-2.2478579,77a,35y,227.72h,50.03t/data=!3m1!1e3?hl=en

        Comment by R. Mark Clayton | September 19, 2019

      • Thanks!
        The height isn’t a problem as both vehicles are similar. But the Sheffield tram-trains wouldn’t fit as they would mean a half metre step. So Manchester either has a unique custom-built tram-train or a rebuild! As the Class 777 trains would fit, they are a practical alternative.They are a few inches wider, but I’m sure there’s an engineering solution to make them fit safely! Remember that Merseyrail and GreaterAnglia are both going for step-free access between train and platform, I couldn’t see Stadler providing an inferior solution anywhere else in the UK!
        I take you point about the curves, but Stadler’s design looks to be for tight ones!
        Remember too, that there’s two other big contracts for the North in the offing; rolling stock replacement on the Tyne and Wear Metro and the Sheffield Supertram.
        The 777 would probably fit the first and if Sheffield’s drivers had their way, they’d opt for 399s.
        So Stadler will win all ways.
        Timings also suggest that a T & W order could follow Merseyrail through the Polish factory!

        Comment by AnonW | September 19, 2019

      • “The Class 777 trains are articulated with an average section length of sixteen metres with five bogies. I wouldn’t be surprised to be told, these trains could go round tight curves.”

        They were specified to negotiate the Liverpool underground loop which is a continuous over-tight curve.

        Comment by John | July 6, 2020

      • Yes and yes on the new stops. Some of the old rail stations only have a hump in one position.

        Comment by R. Mark Clayton | July 7, 2020

  2. My technical knowledge of trains and trams is negligible. But I would be in favour of anything which:

    1. Cut down the road traffic in south Manchester, where I live.

    2. Still accommodated my mobility scooter.

    3. Would let me get from South Manchester to Liverpool easily rather than on the rickety trains which are often used on that route.

    4. Had stops in sensible places. Like outside The Christie, where I am an outpatient.

    I have an appointment tomorrow to see my consultant, and I had planned to pop into haematology this afternoon to get my bloods taken, so I didnt have to be an hour early tomorrow. Usual arrangement is that Neil drops me off, with my scooter, and I go to the department and book in whilst he goes and parks the car. The road with the patient drop off point is closed – they are demolishing the old Paterson Building after a serious fire. The signs at each of Oak road say “Road closed, please follow diversion signs” THERE ARE NO DIVERSION SIGNS. We went back in the direction we had come, assuming we had missed them. We hadn’t, there were none. Having driven around for a while we came home, finding no safe entrance for me. We will arrive very early tomorrow and I will use local knowledge to get myself in – I used to work there. I have said this every time new Metrolink Lines have been planned; The Christie needs a tram stop.

    Comment by nosnikrapzil | September 19, 2019 | Reply

    • I’d like to see a law that all hospitals have good transport connections.

      If I need to go to my preferred A & E, I walk perhaps 70 metres round the corner and get a 30 bus. The bus drops me outside A & E about forty minutes later. It’s slower than an ambulance, but convenient, as I don’t even cross a road. I could also do it in a wheelchair or pushing a buggy.

      Comment by AnonW | September 19, 2019 | Reply

    • 1. Metrolink did reduce road traffic in south Manchester from the outset, particularly on the A56 ~1M per annum IIRC. Currently 43.7M journeys pa and rising.

      2. It does see : –

      3. Not at all keen to defend Northern, but they are already using refurbished [electric] Class 319 on one line MIA Liverpool and replacing Pacers with new Class 195 on the other. Transfer is at Deansgate or the Airport, or direct from stations on the Styal line.

      4. Nearest stop to the Christie is probably West Didsbury, which is about 600 – 800m depending on which entrance you use.

      Oak Road has been one way from Palatine Road since the fire and the disabled car park and drop off is about half way along it, They may have had to do something temporary e.g. to get a crane in.

      A new line to the Christie would involve either tunnelling, extensive residential demolition or on street running. Very hard to justify when there are 47 buses an hour passing it each way ~14 hours a day and services all night.

      Comment by R. Mark Clayton | September 19, 2019 | Reply

      • Do the buses take electric wheelchairs as they do in London?

        Comment by AnonW | September 19, 2019

      • Nearly all of the recent Stagecoach buses can, although there is a size limit for scooters as on the trams – road going scooters / golf buggys are supposed to go on the road. Less certain for other operators e.g. First and Aviva, but I think so. TfGM operate as well.

        IIRC car ownership is a little below average in Greater Manchester, and much less in the city itself – few of the ~100k students have one for instance.

        Inside the M60 bus services are generally quite good, plus there are trams and trains. Outside the M60 there are less buses and they tend to stop early.

        Comment by R. Mark Clayton | September 19, 2019

      • I do wonder, if the norm in Manchester is that everyone has their own car and they use it. Roads always seem less congested in Liverpool or where I live in East London But I have buses everywhere minutes and trains every six going North-South and West-East

        Comment by AnonW | September 19, 2019

      • About hospitals have good transport access. The disused Waterloo Tunnel runs underground metres from the hospital. A station can be cut into the tunnel with an exit directly into the hospital.

        Comment by John | July 6, 2020

  3. Are you sure a 777 can fit the Metro? You haven’t cited their loading gauge (Google found nothing). But there is a 150mm (~ 6″) difference in height. That is non-trivial in the rail operations context – and would be the joint first hurdle to overcome for the concept to have validity. The other initial hurdle is minimum turning radius.

    Both these need HARD data for such ideas to gain traction.

    Comment by David WINTER | July 9, 2022 | Reply

    • I wrote this post, before Stadler won the order for the Tyne and Wear Metro, which look to be very similar trains to Merseyrail.

      The Tyne and Wear Metro has some very tight corners, so I think turning circle is not a problem.

      I certainly feel, that Stadler will be trying hard to get an order for any new Metrolink trams and they have all the technology to give Burnham his long-requested tram-trains.

      But the biggest plus after the technology is Stadler’s quality, with the Class 745 trains between London and Norwich being the best 200 kph trains in the UK, since the HST’s have largely retired.

      Comment by AnonW | July 9, 2022 | Reply

      • T&W have extreme height restrictions: 3445mm is the static height.

        So what are you advocating now. T&W cars or 777s?

        And if 777s, then without loading gauge data to demonstrate otherwise, 777s are too high.

        Comment by David Winter | July 9, 2022

  4. I suspect Stadler will offer something based on bits from the same family for Manchester.

    Comment by AnonW | July 9, 2022 | Reply

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