SOUTHEND COUNCIL has announced a £3.25m budget to replace the pier’s outdated trains, but who can even make them and how are they made?

Severn Lamb, a transport engineering company, created the two current diesel trains for the pier back in 1986.

They are one of the very few companies in the UK who make trains for attractions and theme parks, having also made trains for Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland.

They introduced a simplified line for the pier, which involved a single track with a passing loop and twin track terminal stations. Each of the outdated trains has a diesel locomotive, five trailer coaches and a driver control unit with room for passengers.

After being there since 1986, with a 20-year planned lifespan, they must be fully replaced, with their age making it impossible to source replacement parts.

A spokesperson from Severn Lamb explained the process of how the company create trains, saying: “Our process is to understand the clients’ requirements, to understand if we have an existing product or components from existing products that might be suitable, to design and certify the design against the nominated standards, and then move into production.

“There are several design reviews along the way.

“Specifics such as the weight of a train is very subject to the motive power, gradients, environmental conditions, radius and capacity amongst other things.”

They continued to explain why replacing trains when they reach their lifespan is important, saying: “A typical reason for looking for replacement is that the train reaches the end of its useful life, with parts and servicing becoming more difficult to find.

“When this begins to impact the reliability, safety and uptime of the train and then in turn the commerciality, it is at this point, or earlier, that operators begin to think about replacement.

“Maintaining a safe operation is obviously also critical, which often goes hand in hand with reliability.

“Operators typically have to have an annual inspection to allow them to operate the trains which ensures safety is maintained, while at the same time giving them an indication as to when the useful life may be close.”

Due to being in the early stage in the replacement process, the council haven’t yet decided who will have the task of replacing them.

Approval for the budget will be decided at the end of February. Decisions over who will make the trains will be decided at a much later date.

Alison Dewey from Southend BID (Business Improvement District) said: “If I remember correctly, the original pier trains were taken out of service in 1978, with the current trains reintroduced in 1986 due to public demand.

“Reinstating the train service saw visitor numbers to the pier surge, as the fact that you could get a train to either end, rather than face a round trip 2.5 mile walk, made an outing on our iconic landmark even more appealing. Hopefully, these new trains will have a similar effect.

“The new trains will be more environmentally-friendly and comfortable, slightly faster and possibly with the addition of digital and audio features inside the trains.

“I think their introduction will add an extra reason to visit and experience the quirkiness and uniqueness of the world’s longest pleasure pier.”