Passengers offered first glimpse of new West Midlands Railway trains.
Passengers in the West Midlands have been offered a first glimpse of the new, state-of-the-art trains which will arrive in the region next year after on-track testing began.
West Midlands Railway has ordered a total of 26 diesel trains – known in the rail industry as Class 196s – as part of its £800 million investment in the region’s railway network.
The trains – which are being built in two-car and four-car formations – will be used to increase capacity on the busy line between Hereford and Birmingham when they begin arriving in the West Midlands next year. Among the benefits to passengers using the trains will be power points, WiFi and under-floor heating.
A total of 80 carriages will be constructed under the project with the first batch now under construction in Europe by manufacturer CAF. They are due to arrive in the UK in the spring, with the remaining trains being manufactured at a purpose-built factory in south Wales. All units will undergo further testing here and in Europe before entering passenger service in the second half of 2020.
A video of one of the first new Class 196 trains – complete with West Midlands Railway branding – being track-tested in Czechia in eastern Europe can be viewed online here.
Jane Fisher, transition and projects director for West Midlands Railway, said: “The popularity of rail travel in the West Midlands is continuing to grow at a rapid rate, which is why we have pledged to invest £800m to help us keep up with demand.
“It is exciting to see that this investment is starting to come to fruition with our new Class 196 trains entering the track-testing stage before they begin arriving in the UK next year.
“These smart, modern trains will boost capacity on our network and come with features such as under-floor heating and extra luggage space which I am certain will prove popular with passengers.”