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Major milestone as first Class 385 makes Edinburgh-Linlithgow trip

The first of the new Class 385 electric trains, which still has interiors to be fitted, made its inaugural mainline trip between Edinburgh and Linlithgow last night.

This journey represents a major step forward for Scotland’s Edinburgh-Glasgow electrification project, which forms a key part of the wider Edinburgh-Glasgow Improvement Programme (EGIP) expected to create a 30% boost in capacity by 2019.

“Yesterday’s trial was a hugely important step towards completing the electrification of the line between Edinburgh and Glasgow,” commented Ian McConnell, ScotRail Alliance’s programmes and transformation director, who spoke to RTM about the trains earlier this year. “Having a train run on the route is one of the final phases of the electrification process.

“That it has gone so well tells us that we are almost ready to begin the next stage – which is to start fully testing the new trains themselves. We are building the best railway that Scotland has ever had.

“When we replace the diesel trains with the brand new, state of the art, electric fleet we will deliver enormous benefits to our customers. Cleaner, greener travel – with more seats and faster journeys will completely transform travel between our two biggest cities.”

Speaking to RTM exclusively earlier this month, Alex Hynes, managing director of ScotRail Alliance, said the Class 385 fleet will, alongside the refurbished HSTs, mean 90% of the operator’s fleet will be either new or revamped by 2020. The other 10% is already too modern to require any work.

While Hynes did acknowledge that the alliance was aiming to roll out the trains onto the network by December, he said no promises can be made until the fleet is fully tested on the newly electrified stretch between Edinburgh and Glasgow.

“I don’t want to rush the trains into service because our customer satisfaction is very high,” he told us. “Our punctuality is very high, particularly on that route – I commute on that route and you can set your watch by the train, it’s a fantastic service. The last thing my customers want is for me to rush in a new fleet of trains and for them not to work.

“I’m looking at this from a ‘customer’ end of the telescope rather than a ‘new train introduction’ end of the telescope, and so we’re probably going to introduce them in a more gradual way than perhaps we were planning to do so in the past.

“We have trains on test in Scotland and they’re performing as we expect, but they’re on other electrified routes, not Edinburgh—Glasgow. So between now and the end of the year, we’ll be testing them, building them, doing their fault-free miles, and we’ll introduce them as soon as it’s sensible to do so.”

RTM’s full interview with Hynes will appear in the November/December edition, which you can receive for free by subscribing here.

Today’s milestone announcement will be welcomed by bosses following last year’s concerns from the ORR about meeting EGIP targets.

This month, Hitachi Rail Europe unveiled the new Class 385s at the Newton Aycliffe factory. New stock will include 70 new trains, fully completed with interiors, planned to be split between 46 three-car and 24 four-car trains.

Hitachi’s programme manager, Andy Radford, said: “It’s positive to see that progress is being made on Edinburgh to Glasgow electrification.

“We’re hopeful that we’ll be given permission to start full testing soon so we can guarantee the trains can run for passengers safely. We’ve now got trains at our factory in Newton Aycliffe ready to travel to Scotland as soon as they can run on new electric power line.”

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Andrew Gwilt   19/10/2017 at 22:55

I've heard rumours that it may not start operation until January next year. If that's the case. Might be wrong.

PP   20/10/2017 at 10:31

Andrew, for the love of God please stop speculating. It doesn't add anything to any conversation. And please don't swear at me for saying that. There's a lot of rail professionals on here who know an awful lot more about what's going on than you do. I say that with the greatest of respect. I know you're passionate about the railway, but sometimes it's best just not to say anything.

Ian   20/10/2017 at 12:29

RE: Alastair's comments about the 385s. I expect Hitachi have built the train to the spec requested by the DfT. The reason why it's taking so long to travel between Edinburgh and Glasgow is not to do with the fleet, it is the infrastructure these trains are operating on. To compare the journey times between Edinburgh - Glasgow with the HS1 route from St Pancras - Ashford is just irrelevant to this article as they are completely different railways. We need serious investment into our infrastructure if we are ever to achieve to considerable reductions to journey times that we all expect when new fleets are introduced. Another thought - do you suspect that this launch was pushed through to avoid further embarrassment for the DfT and the electrification scheme...? Any reference to the trains being 'Japanese rubbish' etc...we'll have to wait and see what the real 'technical issues' were - could they perhaps be operator error?

Andrew Gwilt   20/10/2017 at 14:45


PP   20/10/2017 at 15:08

Andrew, I do not appreciate being called an idiot, and your comments are hard to ignore when they're EVERYWHERE, and usually irrelevant and wrong. Come on, then. Where did you hear this rumour? Facebook or Wikipedia? If there's any mods out there, can we get him blocked please?

Allhailthegwilt   20/10/2017 at 17:01

What's worse PP is that he doesn't realise we're all fed up with his banal rubbish. Many have ridiculed out of desperation most of the time but it doesn't get through. Sadly he reduces the quality and professionalism of this Industry site to a Train Spotters scrapbook. But then we're all Idiots, Morons and Trolls!

Andrew Gwilt   20/10/2017 at 21:31

Oh so you want me to be blocked on this. Doesn't work like that PP.

Andrew Gwilt   20/10/2017 at 21:33

@Allhailthegwilt. And thats why you are the person who is using my surname WITHOUT ANY PERMISSION!

Anonymous   21/10/2017 at 01:53

Despite the arguments that isn’t relevant on this article. It’s good to see that the Class 385’s doing some tests before they enter passenger service from January next year. Which is why Hitachi have built these new trains to operate between Edinburgh and Glasgow once the electrification is completed on the Shotts Line via Falkirk High.

Marko   21/10/2017 at 12:02

That's ironic. "Andrew Gwilt" claiming that people can't be blocked, when for years he has been asking for anyone who does not agree with him to be blocked. Backed up by his own slew of inane bigotry. Perhaps an IP address ban is in order.

Andrew Gwilt   21/10/2017 at 12:44

Still won’t work. So stop talking rubbish Marko.

Marko   21/10/2017 at 21:18

What won't work? Do you somehow have the expertise to set up a VPN?

Despair   21/10/2017 at 23:32

Marko, he doesn't have the expertise to see that he is viewed as a complete clown on here by all, no-one wants his comments but still he persists. He probably thinks a VPN is a type of EMU!

Andrew Gwilt   22/10/2017 at 16:47

Oh give it a rest will you. Zzzzz Glad I commented before this stupid debate kicked off and all the crap is becoming a comedy show. More likely I be laughing at your comments than arguing even more.

Train & Rail Enthusiast   22/10/2017 at 21:27

Why is there arguments. When we should be discussing about the Class 385’s. Seriously folks.

RMT   23/10/2017 at 09:27

The only comedy show is you Gwilt.

Andrew Gwilt   23/10/2017 at 12:18

@RMT. How charming. NOT!

Mark Hare   24/10/2017 at 15:35

Maybe Andrew should go and set up his own Rail Industry website, then he could comment and counter-comment using one of his many pseudonyms and have online conversations with himself in a banal language only he can understand. All the time he's on here he does this site a serious disservice, why the mods haven't dealt with him is beyond me.

Andrew Gwilt   25/10/2017 at 03:34

Bog off @Mark.

Marko   26/10/2017 at 08:52

Ironically the only time that mods actually take action is when you mention the website itself in your comments. Global Rail News was a previous victim of a "Gwilt infestation", before they took action and locked down their comments section. Whether RTM will be quite as proactive, I cannot tell.

Marko   26/10/2017 at 08:52

As for you Andrew, what are you, five? Or were you inspired by Tracy Beaker?

J, Leicester   26/10/2017 at 10:58

I'm keen to see the interior when it's completed. It actually looked really good from the mock-ups / CAD drawings, with properly-aligned seating and an acceptable density. As long as the seats are above the 700's bench standards, the 385s may well be a great ride. As for the complete mess of a comments section on show here: seriously speaking, I know this isn't the best moderated forum, but could we not contact somebody in charge of the site to try an IP ban or something?

J, Leicester   26/10/2017 at 11:03

PS - it's amusing to read the comments from"Anonymous" and "Train & Rail Enthusiast" which, just from reading the intonation, are clearly from you know who... Crazy to think I come to this website because it's an academic journal relevant to my job which keeps me abreast of the more technical side of railway operation! :')

Mark   26/10/2017 at 11:29

There is a contact email in the footer. Maybe that's worth a try...

Andrew Gwilt   08/11/2017 at 04:05

Hahaha. I must be laughing really hard on what you said Marko. FOOL!

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