Caledonian Sleeper’s future met its present in March during the testing on its new fleet of trains. Six of the new carriages were out for winter testing, running between Polmadie in Glasgow and Fort William on the West Highland Line. And for two fleeting minutes at Tulloch Station, the new carriages – on their way back to Glasgow – passed the current train as it neared the end of its overnight journey from London.
It comes as trial operations enter the final phase, with preparations being made for the new fleet to begin operating by the end of May 2019.
The fleet, built at a cost of over £100m and part funded by a capital grant from the Scottish Ministers of £60m, has been designed to accommodate the modern-day traveller and cater to both business and leisure travel guests. A range of accommodation options will be offered, plus other new features such as a hotel-style key card entry system, more accessible rooms, charging panels and WiFi throughout the train.
Passed the halfway mark
As of early March, Northern has refurbished more than 50 per cent of its trains. The news came in as Northern launched its 123rd refurbished train into service in the West Yorkshire area and now boasts new livery, refreshed seating, and new lighting, as well as free customer Wi-Fi and at-seat power – features that will be installed on all of Northern’s trains in the future.
It joins the following refurbished trains which are already out and about on Northern’s network, giving customers an improved travel experience:
Ben Ackroyd, Northern’s Engineering Director, said: “The refurbishment of our trains is a massive programme of work and a huge investment for Northern – to reach a milestone of 50 per cent is great news. We are committed to improving our customers’ on-board experience and the refurbishment programme is really gathering pace.”
Glimpse into the future
Hull Trains gave its passengers and local key stakeholders an idea of what rail travel will be like soon, when a test version similar to its new £60m fleet visited the city. Hundreds of people visited Hull Paragon Interchange to catch a first-hand glimpse of the state-of-the-art Hitachi Class 802 train. The visit gave people the chance to see for themselves a version of the five futuristic trains for the first time. For many of the local community, this was their first experience to see an 802 and the facilities on board. Amongst the guests to see the trains were the city’s MPs, schoolchildren, stakeholders and passengers. They were told the trains will be among the most hi-tech, fast, modern and luxurious trains in the UK and saw how they will revolutionise travel from Hull to London.
Hull Trains promise the new trains – which have 30 per cent more capacity for seating – will be more reliable, offer greater comfort and be more environmentally friendly.
The trains are also bi-modal and so can operate on both diesel and electric traction. This means they can travel along the East Coast Main Line’s electrified track and not be disrupted when overhead lines are damaged.
There will be five trains, for a timetable which only requires three, so Hull trains say its reliability will inevitably be improved.