The huge project will see £35 million funded largely by rolling stock company RockRail and with the work being carried out over two stages. The first stage will see the site upgraded to house the new bi-mode Aurora fleet and stage two will see the building of brand new train cleaning areas, replacement offices and staff facilities at the sites South Shed.
Stage one of the work will be carried out by Buckingham Group Contracting Ltd (Buckingham) costing £15m and will see the reconfiguration of the current track layout at the site which will provide improvements in operational flexibility allowing greater train movements through the depot.
The North Shed where trains are maintained at the depot will also be extended with new electric overhead line installed to allow for easier testing of the new bi-mode fleet.
The project will also see a new carriage wash system constructed on the site with upgrades to all fuelling and servicing equipment with the depot's fuel road also being extended to accommodate 2 x 5 car units.
The latest in technology will also hold a key role for the depot's future including a new Vehicle Equipment Monitoring System. The innovative system provides numerous levels of detailed data for East Midlands Railway (EMR) that allow it to monitor trains in real-time and supporting the planning of preventative maintenance at the depot which in turn will lead to improved performance of the trains.
The Aurora trains are set to enter service in 2023 and will bring substantial benefits when compared to EMR's current fleet one of which is being able to run using overhead electric lines.
The new trains will benefit passengers with increased seating and modern interiors with facilities such as air conditioning, free WiFi throughout, plug sockets and improved passenger information screens.
EMR's new fleet is now under construction at Hitachi Rail's UK factory.
Lisa Angus, Transitions and Projects Director at East Midlands Railway, said: “These massive improvements to Etches Park are great news for the city of Derby and the customers we serve.
“Using the latest technology and techniques, we will be able to operate our new Aurora fleet as efficiently as possible, while also maintaining specialist engineering jobs in the city for decades to come – helping to cement Derby's proud railway heritage.
“Everyone at EMR is very excited to begin operating our new Aurora trains for our customers in the East Midlands and South Yorkshire and these new improvements are another important step on our journey to bring the new trains to the regions we serve.”
Mark Swindell, Founder and CEO of Rock Rail, said “the company is providing £30m of funding in an innovative, flexible and customer focused manner.
“Rock Rail is delighted to support EMR and this important investment into Derby Etches Park, which when coupled with the new Aurora units, will deliver a great improvement for customers and the railway.
“We are bringing together track and train investment to deliver a system improvement. Improvements to Etches Park will facilitate the new bi-modes unit and allow flexibility to operate in diesel or electric mode. Rock is committed to this flexible solution as the EMR network develops over time.”
Elaine Clark, Chief Executive Officer of Rail Forum Midlands, said: “It is great to see the preparations for the arrival of the Aurora fleet taking shape with the investment in the Etches Park Depot in Derby. This is great news, not just for passengers and EMR, but also for ensuring skilled jobs are retained and helping to encourage further investment for the city.”
Marc Riley, Managing Director, Rail for Buckingham, said: “Buckingham is delighted to have secured this important project and we look forward to working closely with East Midlands Railway and the team at the depot to safely deliver the improvements at Etches Park. We know that investments like this are essential to improve the passenger experience and the railway whilst at the same time protecting highly skilled engineering jobs.
“Our team will focus on delivering the improvements on time, to the quality standards demanded and work closely with the depot team to protect the ongoing operations of the depot and the safety of depot personnel.”