Lit­tle ex­tras don’t add up to a whole lot...

Gor­don Casely, jour­nal­ist and rail cam­paigner gives his opin­ion

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - NEWS -

Let’s give two cheers for Abel­lio ScotRail’s in­tro­duc­tion of 125s.

In due course, they’ll re­place the ex­ist­ing trains cov­er­ing our In­ter-City routes – and not be­fore time ei­ther.

Ex­ist­ing trains are sub­ur­ban car­riages never de­signed for what should be Scot­land’s premier ser­vices. Ex­pe­ri­enced trav­ellers point to them as the poor­est-qual­ity longdis­tance rolling stock in Europe.

With four decades of op­er­a­tion be­hind them, th­ese 100mph 125s are in­deed vin­tage, but they were de­signed and built to high­est stan­dards half-a-cen­tury ago.

They’ve been well main­tained and won­drously re-en­gi­neered through­out their long and glo­ri­ous lives. Above all, they’re com­fort­able and well-ap­pointed, with space for legs and lug­gage. That’s the good news. The bad news is that in pre­sent­ing th­ese trains to us, Abel­lio is dumb­ing them down.

Their sell­ing points of two toi­lets per car­riage will be re­duced to just one – an im­por­tant point fluffed over yes­ter­day by Abel­lio man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Alex Hynes at the Aberdeen launch.

And when it comes to bikes spa­ces, Abel­lio jousts with words.

Yes, the four spa­ces on ex­ist­ing trains rise to eight, but this ap­par­ent dou­bling bears a nasty st­ing in the tail. Six spa­ces are re­served solely for end-to-end jour­neys.

So pas­sen­gers with bikes head­ing for Stirling and get­ting on at, say, Stone­haven will be lim­ited to just two spa­ces.

That’s why I don’t give th­ese out­stand­ing trains the hearti­est of wel­comes.

For Abel­lio ScotRail took care­ful aim at the com­bined tar­get of toi­lets and bike spa­ces.

And missed.

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