Swiss company Stadler said it signed a deal with Merseytravel worth up to £700 million to build and maintain 52 metro trains on the Merseyrail network for the Liverpool City Region.
The deal involves replacing one of the oldest fleets in the UK, with an average age of almost 40 years, and creating a new Kirkdale maintenance depot.
Stadler said the new trains will be able to carry 60% more passengers and cut journey times by up to 10%.
The new four-car trains will be in service by 2021, with the first unit arriving for testing by the middle of 2019.
The value of the manufacture and maintenance contracts for the 52 trains will be up to £700 million and Merseytravel also has the option to trigger the manufacture of a further 60 vehicles.
The trains will have lower floors, increasing their capacity to 486 people.
Stadler will design, construct and operate a brand new depot at Kirkdale and will also oversee maintenance of the existing fleet, which will be carried out at the current facility in Birkenhead.
Stadler will transfer 155 maintenance workers from Merseyrail into its own operations.
Peter Jenelten, head of marketing and sales at Stadler said: “This contract with Merseytravel marks a very important milestone for Stadler in the UK.
“It will bring safer, more comfortable trains that can carry more people and will help provide the Liverpool City Region with the metro service it deserves.
“The UK is a key part of our global strategy and this contract represents the latest step in our growth here.
“We have recently been successful in several high profile tenders, including the provision of 58 multiple units for the East Anglia franchise and the delivery of 17 metro trains for the Glasgow Subway, and we now look forward to working with Merseytravel to deliver its new trains on schedule.”
Merseytravel chief executive Frank Rogers said: “The new trains will be safer and able to carry more people, more quickly and, when combined with infrastructure improvements, the new fleet will make Merseyrail the most accessible traditional network in the UK.”
Stadler Rail Group is headquartered in Bussnang, Switzerland and has 7,000 employees in 18 countries.
Stadler’s Variobahn trams also operate on the London Tramlink and the firm is also providing the vehicles for the Sheffield tram-train.