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New trains closer as next phase of testing starts

Press Release   •   Sep 11, 2017 14:12 BST

Class 385 test train
  • New trains being tested in Germany ahead of arrival in Scotland
  • Overseas test facilities being used to speed-up test programme overcoming crowded UK rail network

Passengers in Scotland are a step closer to the arrival of new ScotRail Alliance trains, after the next phase of testing began in Germany.

The Hitachi-built electric trains, which will deliver faster journeys, more seats and better services for customers, are carrying out vit al tests in Minden, north Germany, near Hanover from now until October.

The Class 385s, as they are known, are being put through their paces on a range of different routes in the country, reaching speeds of 100mph.

The trains, which have bullet train heritage, have to undergo a rigorous testing programme, before they arrive in Scotland later this year.

Testing overseas

To allow passengers benefit from the new trains as soon as possible, Hitachi is carrying out some of its test programme outside the UK. European test sites have been used because Britain’s rail network hugely busy, the availability of track for testing is very limited.

Before the trains went to Germany, Hitachi successfully tested the Class 385 in the Czech Republic.

These European tests are in addition to the two trains that are carrying out tests in Scotland.

Building the best railway Scotland has ever had

Hitachi is delivering 70 new Class 385 trains for ScotRail as part of a wider programme to transform the country’s railways.

The trains will allow capacity along the route to increase to 100,000 weekday seats.

As well as having more places to sit, passengers will benefit from more leg room, extra luggage space and a modern, digital seat reservation system.

The new trains, which use electric rather than diesel power, are far better for the environment and will produce no CO2 emissions themselves.

The 385 trains bodies are built using the same ‘friction stir welding’ technique that is used to construct the world-famous Shinkansen bullet trains, meaning the shells are both light and extremely strong. The reduced weight allows the acceleration of the 385s to be much faster, which helps to reduce journey times for passengers.

Built in the UK

The new trains are being built at Hitachi’s £82m purpose-built factory in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham.

The company, which is famous for building Shinkansen bullet trains in Japan, has recruited a 900-strong workforce, including over 50 apprentices.

Chris Knape, New Trains Technical Manager at the ScotRail Alliance, said:

“With testing taking place in Germany, the new trains coming to Scotland are one step closer to delivering faster journeys, more seats and better services.

“We are building the best railway Scotland’s ever had, and the new trains are an important part of that.”

Amy Webb, Project Manager at Hitachi Rail Europe, said
“This new phase of testing means we’re a step closer to bringing the new trains into service. By testing in Germany, we’re able to complete more testing than we would be able to in the UK.

“The benefit for passengers is that they will be able to enjoy the new trains sooner, with extra seats and added comfort that they offer.”

About Hitachi Rail Europe Ltd.

Hitachi Rail Europe (HRE) is a global transport specialist with over 100 years of experience building pioneering trains, offering quality maintenance and developing innovative new technology. As a leader in rail we’re improving transport for passengers, connecting communities and helping to boost the UK’s economy.

Having delivered the hugely popular Javelin HS1 fleet in advance of the 2012 London Games, Hitachi is delivering major orders for new trains, with 281 due to be in service by 2021. The first wave of new trains is being made at our purpose-built factory in County Durham and will enter passenger service in 2017 as part of the UK Government’s £5.7bn Intercity Express Programme. With a proud reputation for innovation, Hitachi is at the forefront of using new digital technology to enhance passenger experience and enrich Britain’s railway’s heritage. Hitachi rail is growing rapidly and we’ll soon by more than 2,000 strong, based at 15 locations across the UK.

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