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Green light from regulator for new electric trains for Scotland’s Central Belt

Press release   •   Jul 02, 2018 10:27 BST

  • Regulator gives brand new Hitachi electric trains clean bill of health
  • Important milestone that paves the way for first passenger service this summer

Scotland’s new electric commuter trains (Class 385s) passed an important milestone ahead of starting passenger service on the Central Belt, including the Edinburgh-Glasgow line, this summer. The rail regulator – the Office of Rail and Road – has confirmed that new Hitachi trains meet stringent industry and health and safety standards and have a license to carry passengers.

Important regulatory milestone

The process – known as ‘Type Authorisation’ – is required for the fleet of 70 trains because they are a brand new and bespoke design for Scotland. Passing this vital regulatory milestone means it is now possible that Scottish passengers can experience the benefits of new modern trains this summer.

Passenger benefits

The new trains are specifically designed to combat congestion on Scotland’s busiest route, with thousands of extra seats per day and increased reliability. They will also offer passengers more Wi-Fi throughout, air conditioning and journey times reduced to 42 minutes because of their superior acceleration compared to the current trains.

Being electric they also are far better for the environment, producing no engine emissions or pollutants, far less noise and a more pleasant overall experience for people using stations or living close to the railway.

Preparation ahead of first passenger service

The ORR approval also includes a formal acceptance of the new flat windscreens for the trains, which was accepted by ASLEF in May. The new windscreens are being fitted on trains that are already in Scotland in Springburn, with the rest completed at Hitachi’s County Durham factory.

The Class 385s are still undergoing thorough final internal testing and preparatory work before they can enter into passenger service, which is going well, including completing 2,000 miles of fault free running.

Andy Radford, Programme Manager, Hitachi Rail said:

“Getting the green light for new trains is a massive milestone for the project. It has been achieved by all parties involved working collaboratively towards the same goal. It is now all systems go so that Scottish commuters can start enjoying the benefits of this modern fleet.

Gary Brown, Project Manager, ScotRail

“The new trains have been declared safe and fit to run, which is great news for our customers. It means we’re one step closer to delivering more seats, faster journeys and better services, not just in the Central Belt, but across Scotland.”

Hitachi Rail Europe (HRE) is a global transport specialist with over 100 years of experience building pioneering trains, offering quality maintenance and developing innovative new technology. As a leader in rail we’re improving transport for passengers, connecting communities and helping to boost the UK’s economy.

Having delivered the hugely popular Javelin HS1 fleet in advance of the 2012 London Games, Hitachi is delivering major orders for new trains, with 281 due to be in service by 2021. The first wave of new trains is being made at our purpose-built factory in County Durham and entered passenger service in 2017 as part of the UK Government’s £5.7bn Intercity Express Programme. With a proud reputation for innovation, Hitachi is at the forefront of using new digital technology to enhance passenger experience and enrich Britain’s railway’s heritage. Hitachi rail is growing rapidly, employing over 2,000 people and soon to be operational at 15 locations across the UK.

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