Train operators East Coast and Northern Rail have signalled big improvements for Huddersfield rail users.
East Coast, which operates trains between London King’s Cross and Edinburgh via Leeds and Wakefield, has secured funding for a £2.7bn contract which will see Hitachi Rail Europe build 497 carriages at its purpose-built factory in County Durham, creating 730 jobs. The Class 800 trains will start running on the East Coast line in 2018.
Meanwhile, Northern Rail, whose services across northern England include Huddersfield-Penistone-Sheffield, is rolling out a six-figure revamp of its fleet of Class 153 trains. The upgrade includes new seat upholstery fabric supplied by Meltham Mills and Mirfield firm Camira.
The East Coast contract to deliver the carriages has been agreed with Agility Trains, a consortium of Hitachi Rail Europe and John Laing.
As well as building the new manufacturing facility in the North East, Hitachi will construct maintenance depots at sites including Doncaster and is refurbishing and upgrading depots across the East Coast line.
Hitachi said the new trains will provide “significant” benefits to passengers, with 19% more seats on each train, reduced journey times between London, Leeds, Newcastle and Edinburgh by up to 15 minutes, and improved reliability.
Work to upgrade Northern Rail’s fleet is under way at Northern’s Neville Hill depot in Leeds and the first of the eight units is now in operation across the network.
The investment, carried out with Porterbrook, which owns the trains, includes the Camira-manufactured new seat covers and a new priority seating area. The textile firm has supplied Northern Rail since its franchise started – with the latest contract involving the supply of more than 50,000 metres of material.
Camira has previously supplied fabrics for transport sector names including Routemaster buses, London tube trains, the Paris Metro and Blackpool trams.
The trains – recognisable by their purple and blue livery – are being completely repainted, including the toilets. The carriages will also see the see the installation of new LED lighting and lino flooring. New saloon tables are being fitted and the interior sliding doors removed to provide better wheelchair access.
Stuart Draper, director of engineering for Northern Rail, said: “We are known to have some of the oldest trains on the rail network and this refresh project is testament to our customers that we are committed to improving their journeys with us.
“As our 153 trains operate across our entire network, millions of passengers will experience these improvements”.
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