Published: 3rd September 2015
The opening of Hitachi’s new train production plant at Newton Aycliffe has been hailed as a step forward for the plan to introduce new electric trains in Scotland.
Abellio said that the opening of the new plant in England marked “a significant step in the delivery of new trains for the ScotRail fleet”.
Abellio has been operating the ten-year ScotRail franchise since April this year. It signed a contract with Hitachi Rail Europe to secure 70 new "faster, quieter and longer" trains as part of that franchise, with a commitment from the Scottish Government’s agency Transport Scotland that the trains will operate in Scotland for at least 25 years.
The 46 three-car and 24 four-car AT200 electric multiple units are due to be introduced between summer 2017 and early 2019. The Scottish Government could buy the trains after 25 years for £1 to secure the trains for use in Scotland long after the end of the franchise.
The electric trains are due to operate on the Edinburgh-Glasgow Queen Street via Falkirk High line and will also run on other routes, linking Glasgow with Stirling, Alloa and Dunblane and Edinburgh with Dunblane, once these lines are electrified. Some of the trains will also run on existing electrified routes on the south side of Glasgow via the Cathcart Circle.
Dominic Booth, Managing Director of Abellio UK, hailed the opening of the Hitachi plant at Newton Aycliffe as an advance for the plan to build the new electric trains for ScotRail. He noted that it followed this week’s confirmation that 40 existing Class 158 diesel trains would be refurbished for ScotRail’s scenic routes.
“I am delighted that the delivery programme is well on track at such an early stage,” Mr Booth said.