New ScotRail train designs unveiled

Abellio Scotrail train Image copyright Transport Scotland
Image caption Commuters on the main Edinburgh to Glasgow line will travel on new trains from 2017

Designs for the 70 new trains being built for the ScotRail fleet have been unveiled by the transport minister and new franchise holder Abellio.

The new trains are said to be quieter, faster and longer than current services.

They will operate on Scotland's busiest route - the Edinburgh-Glasgow via Falkirk High line - by 2017.

They will also be used on the Stirling-Alloa-Dunblane line and south Glasgow suburban routes.

Dutch rail operator Abellio begins its 10-year ScotRail contract on 1 April, when it will take over from current franchisee FirstGroup, which has run most Scottish rail services for the past 10 years.

'Infrastructure projects'

Abellio has signed a contract with Hitachi Rail Europe to build the trains.

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 well beyond Abellio's contract, in what Transport Scotland has said is an industry-first.

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.

Image copyright Transport Scotland

Transport Scotland said the work will enable eight-carriage electric trains to run between both cities, providing about 50% more seats in peak times than current services.

However, Mr Mackay admitted it will cause some disruption for commuters.

He told BBC Scotland: "Passengers will face some disruption as a consequence of these massive construction works, but they are necessary if we want an improved railway.

"If we want a top class service then we have to carry out these works. We will keep disruption to a minimum, we will share information about alternative routes and we try and ensure that routes are maintained throughout.

"We are carrying out the works at the points of time where it will have the least impact on people. But it will be well worth the wait."

The deal between Abellio and Hitachi will see 46 three-car and 24 four-car AT200 EMU units built.

The first seven trains are scheduled to be built in Hitachi's Kasado factory in Japan, with the remaining 63 constructed in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham.

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 December 2017 and a further 46 by December 2018 will ensure that the full benefits of the Edinburgh Glasgow Improvement Programme are realised for passengers."

In the north of Scotland, Abellio has announced plans to implement a £2.5m improvement programme at Aberdeen train station, and an upgrade of between £2m and £3m for Inverness.

There are also plans for refurbished high speed trains, which will serve Aberdeen and Inverness by the end of 2018.

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