First images of Northern’s new Class 331 stock revealed

Northern has unveiled the first of its new CAF stock, part of the operators multi-million-pound modernisation plans.

The Class 331s were presented at an event held by the manufacturer in Spain and are set to travel through to Velim in the Czech Republic for testing.

In total, Northern has ordered 98 new electric and diesel trains due to arrive for the first passenger travel in the UK by Christmas of this year.

Zaragoza Jonny Walton  12

David Brown, managing director at the operator, said the new stock represented a “landmark moment” for rail travel in the north of England.

“Our modernisation programme is gathering pace and the promises we made at the start of the franchise are really taking shape,” he explained.

“Alongside our new trains we have delivered more than 70 refurbished trains which are already helping customers go about their daily lives with greater reliability and comfort.”

574 Zaragoza Jonny Walton

The stock will be fitted with wifi and plug sockets at every seat and will be capable of speeds up to 100mph, as well as being fully accessible, Northern says.

It is part of a wider improvement programme set out by the operator at the start of its contract term, with station upgrades completed alongside new and refurbished trains.

Brown said: “We have also started a significant station improvement scheme (Better Stations) which has already seen more than 100 stations upgraded. This work will continue for the next 18 months as we further improve waiting areas, seating, lighting and customer information.

“By 2020 we will also be operating an extra 2,000 services every week meaning our customers will not only have better trains and stations, they will also have improved options to get them to where they need to be.”

Initial testing of the stock has already begun at CAF’s facility in Zaragoza, but the first major phase of assessment will occur in Eastern Europe before the trains make the move to the UK.

Top image: Northern, Jonny Walton

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Pete   07/02/2018 at 12:34

The striking thing about the interior photo is the absence of any sort of large luggage storage – hopefully it’s there but out of shot. A smart looking train though, very much looking forward to seeing the back of Pacers.

Andrew Gwilt   07/02/2018 at 14:34

The Class 331’s will be replacing the Northern Class 321/9’s, Class 322’s and Class 333’s. And the Class 195’s will be replacing the Class 144’s Pacers and other DMU units used on Northern. Along side TPE Class 397 to replace the Class 350/4’s to WMT. With WMT who have ordered new trains that CAF are to manufacture could be classified in the Class 38x or Class 39x or Class 7xx category.

Andrew JG   07/02/2018 at 14:45

I bet the passengers will be complaining about the seats saying like “These seats are like it’s been made from ironing boards and it looks uncomfortable” or “These seats are just like ironing boards and will hurt your back”. So who cares if these new seats will give you back ache or sore back whilst traveling long distances by train when these new trains will enter service from next year. Always has to be complaints about the seats that look like ironing boards and are plastic. In that case. Stand up instead whilst traveling on the train for long periods. It feels like every passenger has a problem with seats not being comfortable. It’s just seats that are made for customers who use the train.

Frankh   07/02/2018 at 15:07

"In that case. Stand up instead whilst traveling on the train for long periods" You've just hit new heights in writing rubbish. "So who cares if these new seats will give you back ache or sore back whilst traveling long distances" The passengers maybe? Think or at least look at what you write before submitting it. Might be a grain of sense then.

SPT   07/02/2018 at 15:20

I'm beginning to think Gwilt is some sort of cyber fake news provoker deliberately trying to wind people up...??? I seriously hope to God Andrew, that you don't travel regularly by train or pay thousands for a season ticket??? Then you'll fully understand why people justifiably complain about the lack of comfort on new trains and indeed, why people think your comments about standing are somewhat crass... On a positive note, the picture shows 2 + 2 seating which, whilst maybe compromising slightly on numbers, may bring some space for passengers and therefore, a bit more added comfort

Paul   07/02/2018 at 15:54

Gwilt strikes a new level of delirium rubbish in his Comments. How can people be so selfish after spending large amounts of money to expect to even sit down, never mind having something resembling a decent seat to sit on? Seat design and comfort has been steadily declining for years now, primarily to save weight and cram more people in, not for the many spurious reasons given by the interested Parties. Compared to old fashioned trains they are a disgrace. I can get in my car and have comfort and style, I can catch a bus and more and more these days high back leather seats are evident. But Gwilt thinks I am selfish to expect reasonable comfort on a train! The guy is deranged.

Jason Leyton   07/02/2018 at 16:09

Not sure if this is true but someone mentioned that these new trains will have include tables.

Andrew JG   07/02/2018 at 23:25

Frankh. Are you one of those commuters who has complained about seats being too hard. It’s what some passengers have experienced before on other trains ie Class 700, Class 707 and Class 387. That some passengers have complained about. I least I’m not complaining about the seats. I went on the Class 700, Class 707 and Class 387 and the seats are quite comfortable. Same as on the Class 345. Some have complained about the uncomfortableness of any seat that has caused some back pain. I’m no expert on how soft or hard the seats are on any train. I can guarantee you that.

Sonning Cutting   08/02/2018 at 11:39

Like some of your other correspondents I too have tried out the seats in many of the new trains including Class 800. I have found that if you sit up straight, do not slouch, and ensure you use the full seat pitch, they are perfectly comfortable. After all not everyone has poor posture and is over-weight!

Jim   08/02/2018 at 16:32

@Andrew Gwilt - a couple of corrections. The new 331 units will not be replacing the class 333 units, only the 321/9 and 322. Also, CAF is making the DMU's for West Midland Trains, so will be 1xx numbers, whereas Bombardier are making the EMU's. Not sure what WMT units have got to do with Northern, but you could at least get your facts right.

Foaming Stoat   08/02/2018 at 17:03

I think Andrew may have intended 323 rather than 333, because the original plan, certainly, was that the 323s would be returning to the leasing company by 2019. I don't remember the minimum train requirements including ironing boards, however. F. Stoat (Miss)

Andrew Gwilt   08/02/2018 at 19:47


Andrew Gwilt   08/02/2018 at 19:53

Thanks for helping me out Foaming Stoat.

Simon Eames1990   08/02/2018 at 22:11

Nice looking units. Time to retire those rotten pacers.

Andrewg Wilt   09/02/2018 at 12:54

Finally, some self-awareness from Andrew. Excellent.

Billd   09/02/2018 at 13:43

I do wish commentators wouldn't comment on seat comfort until they've actually sat on them. Perhaps something along the lines of "I recently sat on the seats in the new class xxx and have found that they......." Otherwise wait!

Jimbo   09/02/2018 at 13:51

Andrew Gwilt - Commenting on your own posts as someone else is fooling no-one and makes you look dumb. Trying to impress people with your knowledge, but not checking you have your facts correct makes you look dumb. Then ranting about other people correcting you, makes you look dumb. People don't like dumb comments and so are quick to negatively comment on yours. So calm down, grow up, and stop trying to impress people with your "knowledge". Thoughtful or interesting comments about the article are welcome - lots of "facts" which can be easily found elsewhere are not.

Andrew Gwilt   09/02/2018 at 15:07

Oh I’m laughing so hard since you said that Jimbo. Still couldn’t care less about what you said. If this was a forum and I was to be banned from commenting such rubbish then I would comment elsewhere.

Soddit   09/02/2018 at 15:54

"If this was a forum and I was to be banned from commenting such rubbish then I would comment elsewhere." Andrew, are you naturally dumb, or has it taken years of practice? Feel free to take your juvenile, ill-informed rubbish elsewhere. A lot of people would be very pleased if you did.

GW   09/02/2018 at 16:34

I find it incredible that people feel that treating the railway's customers so appallingly in their attitude towards seats is regarded as acceptable. The competition is generally with the car (or bus in some areas). You would produce a car with deliberately uncomfortable seats. If you did you would go out of business. For the railway to stay relevant wi-fi, comfortable seats and toilets are all essentials. It does look as if these units are going to have very hard seats, so more money will be wasted dealing with complaints. So come of DfT and train operators. Start dealing people as people and not just some sort of cattle to be pushed around. You may even find it saves money.

Simon Eames1990   09/02/2018 at 22:14

I do wish everyone could stop arguing with each other on the comment section here. This isn't Facebook.

Cosmo   10/02/2018 at 12:00

Well “Simon”, everything would be just fine here if a certain person didn’t treat this site like a Facebook page for emotionally-challenged adolescent trainspotters (“*eyes rolling*” FFS - what kind of nonsense is that?) We all know he has “issues” and try to make allowances, but patience will only stretch so far.

Dave P   10/02/2018 at 18:41

SEATS - a while ago Northern did a touring choose your seat survey. I read the out of the three samples on display the seats being fitted were voted LEAST comfortable.

Gabriel Oak   12/02/2018 at 09:32

My elderly father called me at the weekend to ask what the metro unit was upon which he travelled from STP to GTW as the seats were so uncomfortable. He was quite shocked that it was a new Thameslink class 700 unit intended for the Brighton - Bedford (and longer routes)..........

Andrew Gwilt   13/02/2018 at 05:25

@Soddit. Me being naturally dumb. Up yours then. Plonker.

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