Scotland

ScotRail takes delivery of first new electric train

New train
Image caption Night tests of the new train will begin this week

ScotRail has unveiled the first in a fleet of electric trains the company is billing as "faster, longer and greener".

The Class 385 train, which was built by Hitachi, is the first of 70 that will operate on Scotland's busiest route from Edinburgh to Glasgow via Falkirk.

They will also be used between Stirling, Alloa and Dunblane, as well as some routes south of Glasgow.

Night testing of the train will start this week, ScotRail said.

All Edinburgh - Falkirk High - Glasgow services will be using the new trains from December 2017 and the whole fleet will be delivered by 2019.

ScotRail said the trains were inspired by the Japanese Shinkansen bullet train and would offer rail travellers in Scotland a "21st Century passenger experience".

The electric aluminium trains are much lighter than the current diesel stock which means they can accelerate faster and offer potentially shorter journey times.

They will also provide thousands of extra seats, according to ScotRail.

The four-car train was unveiled in Glasgow.

Image caption The trains were inspired by the Japanese Shinkansen bullet train

Transport Minister Humza Yousaf said: "The arrival of the first new class 385 train for testing in Scotland is a great milestone in this government's commitment to our railway and a tangible sign to passengers of the very real efforts we are making to improve capacity and comfort.

"Since 2007, we have introduced an extra 140 carriages with 200 more to follow by 2019, increasing the ScotRail fleet by 50%.

"This forms part of the Scottish government's £5bn investment in transforming Scotland's railways and I will continue to push for improvements of this kind."

There has been much recent criticism from the public over the punctuality and reliability of ScotRail services since Dutch firm Abellio took over the franchise in 2015.

Opposition parties have also repeatedly questioned the Scottish government over the level of service.

In November, Mr Yousaf called for "immediate improvement" in rail services as the government published its improvement plan for ScotRail.

Phil Verster, managing director of the ScotRail Alliance, said the delivery of the first Class 385 train was a "landmark day".

"We now have a visible symbol of our ongoing massive rail investment, the biggest since Victorian times, one that will become a reality for our customers from next September when passenger services begin.

"We are delivering more seats, more services and better stations over the next few years, leading a transformation that we can all be very proud of."

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