Delivery of first units

Testing to begin on faster ScotRail trains

First of new ScotRail trains (contributed)
First of new ScotRail trains (contributed)

ScotRail’s under pressure bosses had something to cheer with the unveiling of the first of 70 new electric trains.

Built by Hitachi Rail Europe at its Newton Aycliffe plant in County Durham, the first train will begin night testing over the coming days.

The trains are faster, longer and greener and come into service from September next year, with all Edinburgh – Falkirk High – Glasgow journeys operated by the new trains from next December.

However, passengers must wait another two years for the whole fleet to be delivered.

The Class 385 trains are based on pioneering Japanese engineering and inspired by the famous ‘Shinkansen’ bullet train.

They are lighter because they are built with aluminium and without heavy diesel engines, which means they can accelerate faster and offer the potential for shorter journey times.

The train include more comfortable seats, larger tables and power sockets. ScotRail has promised more luggage space, improved toilets and better wi-fi.

Some trains will be lengthened to seven carriages in a year’s time and to eight carriages in December 2018 after the platforms at Queen Street Station in Glasgow are extended.

Senior representatives from Abellio, the ScotRail Alliance and Hitachi joined Transport Minister Humza Yousaf to reveal the new four-car train, and to explain the fleet’s pivotal role in transforming the customer experience of rail from next year.

Mr Yousaf said: “The arrival of the first new class 385 train for testing in Scotland is a great milestone in this government’s commitment to our railway and a tangible sign to passengers of the very real efforts we are making to improve capacity and comfort.

“Since 2007, we have introduced an extra 140 carriages with 200 more to follow by 2019; increasing the ScotRail fleet by 50%. This forms part of the Scottish Government’s £5bn investment in transforming Scotland’s railways and I will continue to push for improvements of this kind.

“I have no doubt that, once these carriages go into service, the extra space and seats will transform the experience of users and help to continue to build upon the success of ScotRail services across the country.”

Dominic Booth, managing director of Abellio UK, said: “The Class 385s are at the centre of what we are doing to improve Scotland’s railways. We are confident that when they become operational, Scottish passengers will see their experience of travelling with ScotRail transformed for the better.

“These trains will help us deliver the journey times, capacity, and quality of service that our passengers deserve – especially when you take into account the wider infrastructure improvements we are making to the network.”

Phil Verster, managing director of the ScotRail Alliance, said: “Today is a landmark day as we welcome the first Class 385 train to Scotland.   We now have a visible symbol of our ongoing massive rail investment, the biggest since Victorian times, one that will become a reality for our customers from next September when passenger services begin. 

“We are delivering more seats, more services and better stations over the next few years, leading a transformation that we can all be very proud of.”

Karen Boswell OBE, managing director of Hitachi Rail Europe, said: “We are making excellent progress in our programme to deliver this fleet for Scotland. We’re proud that our trains, are built in the UK with Japanese engineering expertise, will offer passengers a vastly improved 21st century travelling experience.”


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