The installation of the new electric trains on Southend pier, which were scheduled for a summer 2021 launch has been delayed due to an issue with paint sourced by the contractor, Severn Lamb.
An investigation found an unexpected fault with the paint which means the contractor will have to repaint the panels, a lengthy process which requires disassembly of the carriages, repainting, drying, curing and reassembly, followed by final testing and delivery to the pier.
The delay means the new trains are now not expected to arrive until September.
Patrick Severn Lamb, managing director for Severn Lamb, said: “I would like to extend our apologies to Southend-on-Sea Borough Council and the residents of Southend for this last-minute delay to the delivery of the pier trains.
“It is extremely disappointing for all concerned but once we discovered an issue with certain painted panels, which would have affected their long-term durability, we felt it was in the pier trains’ future best interests and the right decision to rectify this now under proper conditions.
“This setback does not take away from the fact that the new look trains will provide a rejuvenated wow factor to the pier along with providing an exceptional ride experience for all.
“We will be working tirelessly so Southend can enjoy the new pier trains as soon as possible.”
Cllr Carole Mulroney, cabinet member for environment, culture, tourism and planning, said: “We know that our residents have been looking forward to welcoming the new trains and were hoping to ride them during the summer break. We are extremely disappointed with the news of the delay, but unfortunately, this unforeseen issue has come to light right at the end of the process.
“I want to thank Severn Lamb for being upfront and open about the issue which means it can be dealt with before the trains arrive. We have discussed all possible options with them to see if the problem could be rectified in a different way, but the appropriate way is to undertake the work at source in the right conditions, which will delay the delivery and in turn the launch date of the new trains.
“The present trains continue to run during the waiting period and for those who enjoy the journey and any railway enthusiasts, the opportunity is there to ride the existing diesel trains, which have been on our pier for 35 years.”
The pier train replacement project will see the existing diesel trains, which have been in operation on the pier since 1986, replaced with new, eco-friendly trains, designed in heritage green and cream following a public vote.
The lithium battery powered trains will feature a much-improved ride and have state of the art audio visual equipment to enhance visitors’ experience. They will also offer additional capacity, USB charging points and a hearing loop system and braille driver alert system.