by Phil Marsh

40 upgraded trains for ScotRail's scenic lines

Published: 23rd September 2015

Refurbished Class 158 unveiled after 25 years of ervice

ScotRail has unveiled the first of 40 refurbished Class 158 diesel multiple unit trains for scenic lines in Scotland. The new-look trains are to be introduced to service between now and early 2018 as part of a £14 million project.

Improvements include seating, lighting, accessibility, provisiion of power sockets at passengers’ seats, new carpets, better finishes and toilets. Each two-car train offers 137 seats. The exterior livery is the ScotRail “Saltire” blue colour scheme.

New CCTV and automated passenger-counting systems are being fitted. As suggested by the Campaign for Borders Rail, the interiors have been designed with scenic lines in mind, including alignment of seats and windows to offer better views of passing scenery.

ScotRail is funding the project, jointly managed by Porterbrook. The work at the Knorr-Bremse RailServices’ Springburn works in Glasgow has already involved the recruitment of 14 extra staff at the facility.

The first unit was made ready in time for the inauguration of passenger services on the Borders Railway between Edinburgh and Tweedbank, between Galashiels and Melrose.

Derek Mackay MSP, the Scottish Government’s Minister for Transport and Islands, watched on 1 September as the finishing touches were applied.

They said;

He said: “We are investing record amounts in Scotland’s railways and, with passenger numbers increasing by more than six million last year, these refurbished trains will further improve the travel experience. I am also particularly pleased that, in the process, Scottish jobs are being supported with these improvement works delivered by workers at Knorr-Bremse RailServices’ depot here in Springburn.”

Mr Mackay added: “Passengers will soon see more of these refurbished trains rolling out on routes all over Scotland and, fittingly, the first carriages off the production line will start their journey as part of the historic Borders Railway launch, with all the benefits that will bring for the Borders, Midlothian and Edinburgh economy.”

The revamped trains will be rolled out at a rate of about one a month until April 2018 on routes including:

- Inverness - Aberdeen/Kyle/Wick

- Glasgow Queen Street - Stirling/Dunblane/Alloa

- Glasgow Queen Street - Falkirk Grahamston

- Glasgow Queen Street - Anniesland via Maryhill

- Edinburgh - Dunblane/Perth/Glasgow Central via Shotts

- Edinburgh Waverley/Glasgow Queen Street - Perth/Dundee/Aberdeen/Inverness

- Fife Circle.

ScotRail Alliance managing director Phil Verster said: “Completing the first refurbishment is a big moment for this exciting project, which I believe will make a real difference for passengers using Scotland’s railways. We’ve listened to customers, and that feedback is reflected in the upgrades being made. Seats are better aligned alongside windows, interiors are brighter and more modern, and people can charge phones and laptops during their journeys.”

Alex White, Porterbrook’s Operations Director, said: “This project shows what can be achieved in terms of passenger comfort features, environment and quality. Having the work done in Springburn gives us and the industry the chance to retain and even increase a qualified local workforce, which is so critical to the rail industry as a whole.”

Nick Fitzwater, managing director of Knorr-Bremse RailServices in the UK, said: “We are very proud to be involved in this major refurbishment project. Working closely with our customers Porterbrook and ScotRail Alliance in this way further supports our commitment to employment, growth and investment in the Springburn facility and to playing our part in supporting rail operations in Scotland.”

Quarter of a century old

The Class 158 DMU’s were built 25 years ago in Derby by British Rail Engineering Ltd for the Provincial, then renamed Regional Railways business sector. They were built to replace aging trains and to provide economies to allow rural long-distance routes to remain open. After a slightly delayed entry into service, they have been hard at work ever since.

The trains were originally branded ‘Express’, perhaps somewhat optimistically reflecting their work which took them across the UK rail network and the whole fleet is still working for many train companies.

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