All systems go for 70 new electric trains for Scotland
Today (3 September 2015) marks a significant step in the delivery of new trains for the ScotRail fleet, with the opening of Hitachi’s train manufacturing facility in Newton Aycliffe in north east England.
Abellio has been operating the ScotRail franchise from 1 April this year, and signed a contract with Hitachi Rail Europe to secure 70 brand new “faster, quieter and longer” trains.
In an industry-first deal, the Scottish Government could buy up the full fleet of the trains after 25 years for just £1 – securing the carriages for use in Scotland well beyond Abellio’s 10-year ScotRail contract.
Once delivered from summer 2017, the new trains will operate on Scotland’s busiest route – the Edinburgh-Glasgow via Falkirk High line – as a result of the Scottish Government’s Edinburgh-Glasgow rail Improvement Programme. This work will enable eight-carriage electric trains to run between both cities providing almost 50 per cent more seats in the peak than current services.
The new trains will also run between Glasgow – Stirling/Alloa/Dunblane, between Edinburgh – Dunblane and on south Glasgow suburban routes (Cathcart Circle).
The contract sees the Scottish Government guarantee the use of the trains on Scotland’s rail network for at least 25 years, and also comprises a long term maintenance deal, with plans currently in place to stable and service the trains at depots in Edinburgh.
In a separate development this week, ScotRail unveiled the first of 40 new-look trains which have improved seating, better lighting and power sockets for customers to use. These 137-seat Class 158 trains will also be fitted with new CCTV systems and automated passenger-counting systems. The first carriage will be on the track ready for the opening day of the new Borders Railway at the weekend. These revamped trains will be rolled out at a rate of about one a month until April 2018 on routes all across Scotland.
Dominic Booth, Managing Director of Abellio UK, said:
“As the opening of Hitachi’s train manufacturing plant in Newton Aycliffe shows, it is all systems go for new faster, quieter and longer trains for Scotland. These 70 brand new trains will deliver shorter journey times, greater capacity and better quality of service for passengers.
“The opening of the Hitachi factory follows on from the separate announcement this week of 40 revamped trains for the ScotRail fleet to improve rail services from Wick to the Borders.
“New and refurbished trains were a key pledge of Abellio’s franchise bid, and I am delighted that the delivery programme is well on track at such an early stage.”