[UK] Abellio in the UK: A £3 billion new trains overview – Part 1 Scotrail

“(..) which means we are now overseeing ₤3 billion of investment into 1.700 new carriages across all our franchises.”

It was this quote from Dominic Booth, Managing Director of Abellio UK, in a press release about West Midland Trains, that caught our attention. It inspired us to make an overview of the trains ordered by, built for and delivered to Abellio related operators. We will bring this information in three parts, and this is Part 1.

  • Scotrail (scroll down for part 1)
  • Greater Anglia (coming soon)
  • West Midlands Trains (coming soon)

 Part 1: Scotrail

New Hitachi AT-200 based Class 385 electric trains

In October 2014 Transport Scotland awarded the Scotrail franchise to Abellio independently. The franchise started in April 2015 an runs for 7 years. If their performance is up to set criteria, the franchise can be extended by 3 years until March 2025. In April 2015, a month before Abellio started operation, Hitachi got the order for 70 AT-200 based units plus maintenance. The order consisted of 46 electric 3-car trains and 24 electric 4-car trains, some 234 carriages. The trains are financed by Caledonian Rail Leasing and thus will enter service under operator Abellio. If the Scotrail franchise is extended by 3 years, a further ten electric 3-car trains will be built. The 70-train order is worth £ 400 million.

The very first design impression of an AT200 for Caledonian > Abellio – Impression: Hitachi Rail

The Edinburgh Glasgow Improvement Programme (EGIP)
Transport Scotland, the national transport agency for Scotland, is improving the Scottish railway infrastructure in the Edinburgh Glasgow Improvement Programme (EGIP). This means modernizing and upgrading key junctions and infrastructure.  An important part of this program is the electrification of the remaining parts of the line between Edinbrugh, the capitol of Scotland, and Glasgow, Scotland’s biggest city. This results in a shortened journey time of 42 minutes between Edinburgh and Glasgow. On the route platforms are being extended for 8-car operations. The electrification project had some major setbacks, but the catenary was energized in September 2017. The new trains will operate the Edinburgh-Glasgow line as well as suburban routes from/to these cities.

Photo: Hitachi Rail

Constructed in Japan and the UK
The Scotrail franchise order was the first for Hitachi’s new AT-200 commuter trains after Hitachi unveiled their AT-200 mock-up body in July 2014 and displayed it at InnoTrans 2014 in Berlin. The trains have aluminium double skin bodyshells and are fitted with, cab-end gangways for multiple train operations. The first 7 trains were built at the Hitachi plant in Kasado (Japan). The remaining 63 trains are being built at Hitachi’s Newton Aycliffe facility in the UK, although some major parts still come from Japan.

Built in Japan: the first bodies – Photo: Hitachi Rail

The Hitachi trains 385 are designed according to both the latest European standards (TSI), and the UK Railway Group Standards (RGS). There are two types of Class 385, the 3-car train Class 385/0 (numbered 385001-385046) and a 4-car train Class 385/1 (numbered 385101-385124). The maximum speed for both types is 161 km/h (=100 miles/h). Train sets can be coupled up to a maximum of 12-cars. Both end-cars have walk-through gangway hoods. The hoods connect to each other in the automatic coupling process to provide access between train sets.

Configuration and features
The 70,28 m long 3-car train set has a trailer car and two motorized end cars. As the 3-car train set only needs three motor bogies, one end car has two motor bogies. The other end car has only one motor bogie, the other is just a trailer bogie. This configuration, eliminating two traction motors and one traction unit, reduces weight by some 1,5 t per train set. The trailer car is equiped with the pantograph for the 25kV AC overhead line. The 3-car train set has 190 seats in Standard Class.

Picture: Hitachi Rail

The 93,28 m long 4-car train set has 2 trailer cars and 2 motorized end cars. Both end cars have 2 motor bogies. One of the 2 trailer cars is equiped with the pantograph for the 25kV AC overhead line. The 4-car train set has 237 seats in Standard Class and 20 seats in First Class. All First Class seats are in one of the end cars.

Class 385 units built in the UK – Photo: Hitachi Rail

All trains are equiped with table and toilet facilities, LED lighting and air conditioning as standard. Power sockets and wi-fi are available throughout the train. The trains sports a livery in blue and white, colors of the Scottish flag. The flag is also represented in the logo and the white (half) X-shapes at the car ends. The Class 385’s interior recently was revealed by Scotrail as can be seen in this video.

Delivery and testing the Class 385 trains
Construction of the Class 385 trains started in December 2015. Late August 2016 the 4-car train set 385101 arrived from Japan to be tested at Velim test track in the Czech Republic. Only a couple of weeks later, late September 2016, the train ran at it’s designed speed. Another 4-car train was delivered to Britain in October 2016, so testing on the British network could be started. The first train was delivered to Scotrail December 2016.

The new overhead line of the Edinbrugh-Glasgow line was energized on 2 September 2017. Meanwhile, due to limited paths to the network in the UK, two Class 385 trains were moved to DB Systemtechnik’s base at Minden in Germany for unpowered dynamic tests on the DB network in September and October 2017. Hitachi and DB Systemtechnik previously worked together on the testing and commissioning Class 800/801 Intercity Express trains.

Wednesday 18 October 2017 the first Class 385 train ran on an actual part of the newly electrified main line between Edinburgh and Linlithgow under their own power . Two weeks later, in the early hours of Wednesday 1 November 2017, a  Class 385 ran along the full Edinburgh to Glasgow route. Testing will commence in the coming weeks.

Refurbishing the HST’s Class 43 power cars and Mk 3 coaches 

As part of the Scotrail franchise Transport Scotland asked for Scottish internal Intercity services based on HSTs. Abellio’s provides this with refurbished HSTs on the routes between Scotland’s seven cities (Glasgow, Edinburgh, Stirling, Perth, Dundee, Aberdeen and Inverness). 23 HST train sets will be necessary daily for the 2019 Scottish Intercity Network, 26 train sets and 2 extra power cars will be leased from Angel Trains.

The seventeen 7-car trains and nine 6-car trains (including the Class 43 power cars) will be refurbished by Wabtec and Brush Traction in £50 mln deal. A total of 54 power cars and 121 Mk 3 coaches. Brush Traction works the power cars and Wabtec the coaches. The trains will be refurbished after their release from Great Western Railway (GWR) following the introduction of Hitachi’s Intercity Express trains. Last September the first two power cars and some Mk 3 coaches were handed over by GWR.  Only a week later, on 14 September 2017, just hours before showing a temporary blue livery with the slogans “A New Era” and “We’re building the best railway Scotland’s ever had” one of the power cars caught fire in Exeter.

The trains will be applied with a new Scotrail livery featuring images of Scotland’s seven cities as can been seen in the pictures.

Artist impression of Scotrail HSTs at Glasgow Green Street Station – Impression: Scotrail

The 7-car train sets will operate the Central Belt (Edinburgh-Glasgow) to Aberdeen services and the 6-car trains running to Inverness. The operations from Inverness to the Central Belt via Aberdeen will increase.
 The new intercity network will offer journey time improvements. Between Inverness and the Central Belt (Edinburgh-Glasgow) trip wil be an average of 10 minutes quicker. The fastest total journey time between Glasgow and Inverness falls to below three hours. One carriage on the trains will be Business Class, which will include a table at the seats, providing a working space for business travellers. An on board catering service by a buffet area on each train, with the best of Scottish food and drink, improves the stay on board.

ScotRail’s HST project manager Chris Tait commented: We’re looking to do something special!

As the Class 43 power cars are over 40 years old, taking on corrosion and its glass reinforced plastic exterior is an important part to make them last up to 2030.  The power car’s luggage compartment offers a rack for three bicycles . These will be available for end-to-end journeys only.

The four types of refurbished Mk3 coaches are:

  • a business class coach, including the catering area;
  • a normal standard class coach;
  • a standard class coach with wheelchair spaces and a toilet;
  • a standard class coach with a rack for two bicycles.
Interior Scotrail HST Mk 3coach – Picture: Scotrail

The Mk 3 coach interiors will be revamped with new seats, tables, ceilings and floor coverings. The pitch between seats is increased to 1800 mm. They will be upgraded to modern standards including the availability of power sockets, forward facing CCTV, improved LED lighting and wifi throughout the train. Main exterior features are new power-operated sliding doors.

All-in-all Abellio Scotrail is investing  £450 mln in new trains. They eventually will introduce 70 new and 26 refurbished trains. This means 335 carriages and 54 power cars for Scotland.

Come back to Railcolornews.com for the upcoming part 2 (Greater Anglia) and 3 (West Midlands Trains) and see more Abellio trains.