The Hitachi-built electric trains, which will deliver faster journeys, more seats and better services for customers, are carrying out vital tests in Minden, north Germany, near Hanover from now until October.
Rigorous testing programm for Hitachi Class 385s
The Class 385s, as they are known, are being put through their paces on a range of different routes in the country, reaching speeds of 100mph. The trains, which have bullet train heritage, have to undergo a rigorous testing programme, before they arrive in Scotland later this year.
To allow passengers benefit from the new trains as soon as possible, Hitachi is carrying out some of its test programme outside the UK. European test sites have been used because Britain’s rail network hugely busy, the availability of track for testing is very limited. Before the trains went to Germany, Hitachi successfully tested the Class 385 in the Czech Republic. These European tests are in addition to the two trains that are carrying out tests in Scotland.
Delivering 70 new Class 385 trains for ScotRail
Hitachi is delivering 70 new Class 385 trains for ScotRail as part of a wider programme to transform the country’s railways. The trains will allow capacity along the route to increase to 100,000 weekday seats. As well as having more places to sit, passengers will benefit from more leg room, extra luggage space and a modern, digital seat reservation system. The new trains, which use electric rather than diesel power, are far better for the environment and will produce no CO2 emissions themselves. The 385 trains bodies are built using the same ‘friction stir welding’ technique that is used to construct the world-famous Shinkansen bullet trains, meaning the shells are both light and extremely strong. The reduced weight allows the acceleration of the 385s to be much faster, which helps to reduce journey times for passengers.
The new trains are being built at Hitachi’s £82m purpose-built factory in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham. The company, which is famous for building Shinkansen bullet trains in Japan, has recruited a 900-strong workforce, including over 50 apprentices.