Wheels in motion for new eco-friendly pier trains

Published Monday, 13th January 2020

Pier Train on Pier on a sunny day with the tide in.

New pier trains are on track to be installed in 2021 following the announcement that Severn Lamb have won the contract to design, construct and install them.

The current diesel trains were also developed by Severn Lamb, and have been transporting thousands of visitors into the estuary since 1986. At the time they had a projected 20-year lifespan but outstanding servicing has kept them going way beyond their expected life.

It is now time to replace them, and the council set aside £3.25m in the 2019/20 budget to complete the work. The new trains follow the opening of a new visitor entrance in summer 2019 and many damaged deck boards, sun shelters, hand rails and benches being replaced as part of regular maintenance.

Construction of the new pier trains is set to begin mid-2020, with plans in place to replace the existing trains anticipated to take place in 2021.

Ahead of the start of the work, four ‘nose designs’ for the train have been designed, along with three potential colour schemes, and the council would like to hear the views of local residents, businesses and visitors.

Cllr Carole Mulroney, deputy cabinet member for business, culture and tourism, said: “Southend pier is iconic. It brings thousands of visitors to our town every year, and we know that part of that draw is to travel the length of the world’s longest pleasure pier on the traditional diesel trains.

“As we continue our drive to create a carbon neutral Southend, we are pleased that the new trains will be fully electric and produce zero emissions, which we know is something that is very important to local residents. This is in line with the council’s ambitions to be carbon neutral by 2030.

“I am excited to see the proposed designs, and would like to hear the views of local people and residents to help inform the decision we make on what to go ahead with.”

Matthew French, sales and marketing executive for Severn Lamb, said: “Severn Lamb are no strangers to the pier having commissioned the current train back in 1986, which was opened by Princess Anne on the 2nd May and has stood the test of time ever since. This project was a roaring success and our two diesel locomotives have proven to be extremely reliable for both the council and visitors alike for 33 years.

“We are honoured to be working on this project again after many years and these completely custom designs are shaping up to be something truly special.”