Rail passengers across the central belt are to benefit from more reliability and more seats thanks to £19 million investment in the ScotRail Alliance fleet.
That’s according to the Scottish Government, which says the upgrade of the fleet of c334 trains – which primarily run on the services to and from Edinburgh to Helensburgh and Milngavie through Bathgate, Airdrie and the low-level platforms at Glasgow Queen Street – is well on its way to completion.
It says the upgrade will also increase the number of six-car trains able to run on the network and will improve reliability with on-train systems and improved punctuality from reduced coupler defects.
The work – completed by the ScotRail Alliance and funded by the train owners, Eversholt Rail – has seen the fitment of new heated couplers on all 40 of the Class 334 three-car electric units. The new couplers also increase the speed at which train units can be linked and separated, improving turnaround times and allowing the ScotRail Alliance to match the number of carriages to passenger demand more effectively.
Humza Yousaf, Minister for Transport and the Islands, confirmed that ScotRail’s performance improvement plan has now been published. He also viewed one of the improved c334 trains at Waverley Station after giving a speech at today’s (Tuesday, 29 November) rail conference in Edinburgh.
Mr Yousaf said: “This upgrade, part of a total investment of £475 million across all of ScotRail’s fleet, is just one of actions we are taking to provide customers across Scotland with access to more modern, accessible and reliable trains.
“By making these coupler upgrades we are taking steps to ensure performance is lifted on the line from Helensburgh to Edinburgh and the number of seats is increased.
“And we have completed this work in record time, with these improvements made to all of these trains in just six weeks.
“On top of these trains returning to service today, last Friday I visited a Glasgow factory, G&M Radiators, to witness first-hand work to improve performance on class 158 diesel units which operate throughout the country including Fife, the Far North and Borders routes. These upgrades to the engine radiator system not only help lift the fleet performance, the work also gives a welcome boost to a longstanding family company and local Scottish jobs.
“Just as I am seeing the work ScotRail is implementing to give passengers the service they expect and deserve, I would urge anyone with a genuine interest in our railways to review the Performance Improvement Plan which is available now.”
This engineering work is part of a major expenditure package on all Class 334s to install new power sockets, lighting, heating, cycle spaces with a rollout of free on-board wi-fi across the fleet to come.
According to the Scottish Government, the coupling improvements to the trains were delivered in a record time, taking only six weeks and causing minimal disruption to passengers.
Both Eversholt Rail and Alstom helped deliver the work which has been carried out at Polmadie and Shields depot.
Phil Verster, ScotRail Alliance managing director, said: “I’m pleased to announce this coupler upgrade to the Class 334 fleet. It is another milestone achievement in our overall train improvement programme, which sees £475 million spent on refurbishments and new trains for Scotland’s railway.
“We are going through the biggest improvement in our railway since the Victorian era and this investment in our rolling stock is another significant signal of our determination to deliver a railway of which Scotland can be proud.”
G&M Radiator Manufacturing MD John Blake said: “We are delighted to be given the opportunity to help provide a solution for the Scottish rail industry to the benefit of all passengers. Coming directly to the manufacturer means we can provide ScotRail with a complete design, manufacture and repair service alongside a planned maintenance schedule.
“Liaising locally with Abellio ScotRail staff, we can provide round the clock support. With our long history in the heat transfer industry we have the knowledge and flexibility to act swiftly and adapt our service as the need arises.”