Northern Ireland

First of 20 new trains arrives at Belfast docks

Class 3000 train
Image caption Translink said the new trains would have additional features to the Class 3000 fleet

The first of 20 new trains for Northern Ireland Railways has arrived at Belfast docks.

It will be put into service by the end of this year. The full fleet will be introduced next year.

The new trains, together with those brought fully into service in 2005 - will replace all the older trains currently in operation.

Regional Development Minister Conor Murphy said it represented a £114m commitment to modernise rail services.

"The first of these ultra-modern trains will enter passenger service by the end of the year, offering the public a high standard of performance, comfort, safety and accessibility and I look forward to the full fleet being delivered and introduced to passenger service during 2012," he said.

"Passenger numbers on railways now exceed 10 million annually, a 60% growth rate since 2002 and despite the difficult budget constraints, significant planned investment on the railways network highlights my own and the Executive's commitment to improving services.

"Over the next budget period, as well as funding these new trains, my department will also fund associated projects such as a new train maintenance facility at Adelaide, Belfast, and platform extensions as well as the start of the Derry to Coleraine track relay.

"This will ensure the continued modernisation of the infrastructure and contribute to continuing to increase rail passenger numbers."

The new 'Class 4000' train was delivered by ship from the Spanish train builders CAF to Belfast docks, where Translink took delivery and transported it to their York Road engineering depot.

Translink chief executive, Catherine Mason, said that the new trains had some similar features to the current Class 3000 fleet of trains, but there were also a number of improvements.

"Some of these enhancements include the introduction of new multi-purpose areas on board to accommodate parents with buggies or extra bicycles," she added.

"In addition they will have the latest environmental features and be more fuel-efficient with reduced carbon emissions."

Ms Mason said the first new train would be deployed on the Larne line.