Hitachi trains for Happy trains

ScotRail project manager Kirsty Devlin discusses the withdrawal of Class 365s, to be replaced with the brand-new Class 385 fleet.

While ScotRail awaited delivery of the Hitachi Class 385s last year, we had to replace some older trains which had come to the end of their lease, and ensure capacity remained the same for our customers.

Our contingency planning assessed rolling stock options and identified 10 Class 365 units had recently been removed from service by Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR).

In March 2018, I was asked to lead a project team to bring the Class 365s into service by July 2018. The first of the Class 365s – known as ‘happy trains’ due to their yellow front, windscreen and curved front air intake resembling a smiley face – entered passenger service on 23 June 2018.

It was a remarkable achievement for the project to go from conception to full delivery in under three months, and testimony to the hard work of colleagues from across the ScotRail Alliance – a partnership between ScotRail and Network Rail Scotland – along with industry partners.

The happy trains added an extra 17,200 extra seats each day on the Glasgow – Edinburgh via Falkirk High route and have since been used on the recently electrified lines between Glasgow/Edinburgh and Stirling/Dunblane/Alloa.

The Class 365s were a welcome addition to the ScotRail family, but it’s now time for them to be replaced as we have more brand-new trains now running on Central Scotland’s newly electrified railway.

By introducing more Hitachi Class 385s in the Central Belt, it allows us to deliver faster journeys on more reliable trains.

With bright, modern, contemporary finishes, Class 385s provide customers across the Central Belt with power sockets at each pair of seats, free Wi-Fi throughout the train, more luggage storage, cycle spaces in a clearly marked area, and flexible storage area for larger items of luggage such as prams and golf clubs.

Class 385s are also fully accessible, with two wheelchair spaces in the main saloon and an accessible toilet in every train – which includes a new ‘assist’ facility to allow companions access to the cubicle while maintaining privacy.

The dedicated first-class carriages boast plug sockets at every seat, premium leather seats, LED lighting and more luggage storage.

The Class 385s can operate in three, four, six, seven and eight car formations, providing much more flexibility to match demand with capacity. Unlike the Class 170 trains which they replaced, the Class 385 have ‘through’ gangways between all coaches so that every part of the train can be accessed from the inside.

Electric trains also mean no diesel engines, resulting in quieter journeys for customers and reduced noise pollution for those living and working near the railway.

And when eight-car trains are introduced on the Edinburgh – Glasgow via Falkirk High route, this will improve capacity by up to 44% at peak times.

These trains are helping to revolutionise train travel in Scotland’s Central Belt. Their introduction on the routes between Glasgow and Stirling, Dunblane and Alloa means customers now benefit from more than 3,500 additional seats each day between Glasgow and Stirling, with journey time savings of up to five minutes.

Customers travelling between Edinburgh and Dunblane now have an extra 4,000 seats each day, with the journey time from Stirling to Edinburgh reduced by more than five minutes, meaning it’s now faster to take the train than drive between the Stirling area and Edinburgh throughout the day.

And when combined with new Glasgow-Edinburgh via Cumbernauld and Falkirk Grahamston service, the number of seats on corridor has doubled – an increase of 15,000 seats per day.