Falkirk rail commuters heading to Glasgow or Edinburgh will soon be travelling in style. Designs for the 70 new trains being built for the ScotRail fleet have been unveiled by the transport minister and new franchise holder Abellio.
They will operate on Scotland’s busiest route - the Edinburgh-Glasgow via Falkirk High line - by 2017. The new trains are quieter, faster and longer than current services.
Dutch rail operator Abellio begins a 10-year ScotRail contract on April 1, when it will take over from current franchisee FirstGroup, which has run most Scottish rail services for the past 10 years.
Abellio has signed a contract with Hitachi Rail Europe to build the trains.
The deal will see 46 three-car and 24 four-car AT200 EMU units built, with the first tranche arriving in summer 2017 and the remainder introduced by early 2019.
The first seven trains are scheduled to be built in Hitachi’s Kasado factory in Japan, with the remaining 63 being built in the company’s flagship train manufacturing facility in Newton Aycliffe in the north east of England, opening later this year.
The deal for the new electric trains gives the Scottish Government the option to buy up the full fleet of the trains after 25 years for £1, securing the carriages for use in Scotland beyond Abellio’s contract.
Transport Minister Derek Mackay said: “With the new ScotRail franchise, a number of impressive infrastructure projects and these slick new trains, we are giving Scotland a railway to be proud of.
“Abellio’s winning bid for the ScotRail franchise included several exciting proposals and I look forward to seeing it all take shape from their takeover of the service in just a few weeks.”
Once delivered in the summer of 2017, the new trains will operate on the main Edinburgh to Glasgow line following the Scottish government’s Edinburgh-Glasgow Rail Improvement Programme.
Jeff Hoogesteger, chief executive of Abellio, said: “This is an important deal for passengers and for Scotland. New trains for Scotland were a key feature in Abellio’s bid for the franchise and we are excited to be pressing the button on the delivery programme.
“The arrival of 24 Hitachi AT200s by Dec 2017 and a further 46 by Dec 2018 will ensure that the full benefits of the Edinburgh Glasgow Improvement Programme are realised for passengers; delivering faster journey times, greater capacity and higher service quality.
“And the effects of the investment will spread much wider than that. The new trains will be more energy efficient, and innovations in design and lightweight construction will reduce the impact of services on important infrastructure.”
Jon Veitch, Hitachi Rail Europe’s general manager for Scotland, added: “We are delighted to be signing this contract, which will see the supply of rolling stock and maintenance services for the new ScotRail franchise. This forms the start of a long-term partnership to boost passenger services in Scotland, and we will be working closely with the operator to ensure that services are kept to a very high standard across this period.”