ScotRail’s elec­tric ser­vice ‘a year late’

The Sunday Post (Dundee) - - Interview - By Andrew Picken

PLANS to run a full elec­tric train ser­vice on the flag­ship Ed­in­burgh to Glas­gow line have been de­layed again, ScotRail bosses have ad­mit­ted.

The new trains were meant to run­ning by De­cem­ber af­ter the £795 mil­lion project was dogged by a se­ries of de­lays and cost over­runs.

But now ScotRail boss Alex Hynes has re­vealed man­u­fac­turer Hi­tachi has said they can’t de­liver the 21 trains needed to run a full ser­vice by the end of the year.

In a let­ter to Trans­port Min­is­ter Humza Yousaf, ob­tained by The Sun­day Post, the new ScotRail boss in­sists he is press­ing the Ja­panese firm to de­liver but fails to say when the full ser­vice will start.

Scot­tish Con­ser­va­tive trans­port spokesman, Jamie Greene, said: “We’re in a sit­u­a­tion where we don’t even have a fi­nal date on a project which has al­ready been marred by de­lays, and com­muter pa­tience is run­ning thin.”

The £370 mil­lion fleet of Hi­tachi Class 385 trains was meant to be up and run­ning a full timetable by au­tumn this year.

This was then put back un­til De­cem­ber and now it will be 2018 be­fore a full ser­vice is in­tro­duced.

Be­fore the Class 385 trains run, ScotRail plans to op­er­ate elec­tric trains bor­rowed from other lines be­tween Ed­in­burgh and Glas­gow.

How­ever, this plan has also been de­layed at least four times.

The in­tro­duc­tion of elec­tric trains will not af­fect the time the jour­ney takes.

Net­work Rail has said jour­ney time im­prove­ments will be “in­cre­men­tal” and a re­port from rail reg­u­la­tors states the 42-minute jour­ney will come some time af­ter March, 2019.

Trans­port Scot­land ex­pects the jour­ney time sav­ings to be de­liv­ered by De­cem­ber next year.

But in­dus­try sources ear­lier this year told The Sun­day Post this is un­re­al­is­tic and De­cem­ber, 2019, is far more likely.

In a let­ter to Mr Yousaf, Mr Hynes said: “A num­ber of is­sues have been re­ported by Hi­tachi and, at this stage, we do not be­lieve we will be in re­ceipt of the 21 trains to run a full elec­tric timetable in De­cem­ber, 2017.

“We con­tinue to press Hi­tachi to en­sure we re­ceive as many trains as pos­si­ble, as quickly as pos­si­ble.”

Mr Hynes said the first elec­tric trains, bor­rowed from other routes, will run be­tween Glas­gow and Ed­in­burgh in De­cem­ber, not Oc­to­ber as pre­vi­ously promised.

Mr Yousaf said: “It’s de­sir­able the new trains are in­tro­duced as soon as pos­si­ble, but not at the ex­pense of com­pro­mis­ing ScotRail’s du­ties in re­la­tion to the pru­dent and nec­es­sary sys­tem test­ing pro­gramme.”

More de­lays for pas­sen­gers.

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