New £580million Northern train fleet is taking shape

One of the new trains takes shape.
One of the new trains takes shape.
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The first of the new units which will make up the new £580million Northern train fleet have rolled off the production line.

The operator, which operates local services in the North East, among others, is making a major investment in 98 new electric and diesel trains.

Senior managers recently visited train manufacturer CAF’s sites at Irun and Zaragoza in Spain to inspect the first of 281 carriages coming off the production line.

Northern's engineering director Ben Ackroyd said: "It was great to get out to Spain to take a look at the first unit in production.

"The engineering team at Northern has been working hard for the last year or so to finalised the designs and get all the paperwork signed off.

"Since I joined in March it’s been really rewarding to see the final designs come together, but it all really came to life for me when we stood inside one of the first bodyshells in Spain."

Northern bosses visited train manufacturer CAF in Spain with representatives from train owner Eversholt Rail.

Northern bosses visited train manufacturer CAF in Spain with representatives from train owner Eversholt Rail.

With 43 electric and 55 diesel trains to build, test and launch into service by December 2019, the task ahead of Northern is significant.

The design of the units is substantially different to the specification customers have at present, with free Wifi, power sockets and digital information screens.

Northern's head of new trains Ian Hyde said: “This is a once-in-a generation chance to significantly improve the quality of rail services in the North; we’re enhancing the overall on-board experience.

"The introduction of these units will contribute to increasing our fleet and our overall capacity, bringing more flexibility and allowing us to offer more and faster services."

Inside the bodyshell of one of the new carriages.

Inside the bodyshell of one of the new carriages.

A series of empty body shells are in various states of finish. The first new train will be completed in the autumn and will then go for testing in Vellim in the Czech Republic next year.

It is anticipated that the first new train will make its way to the UK in spring of 2018, which brings its own engineering challenges.

The new trains, and the technology on board them, will require a completely new maintenance regime, and while the new trains are being built Northern will be making major updates to some of its depots and training the employees who will be undertaking that work.

In addition, all of Northern’s on-train crews need to be trained, ready to take the units into service in December 2018.

Northern's head of new trains Ian Hyde.

Northern's head of new trains Ian Hyde.

All 98 of the new trains will be carrying Northern’s customers around the network by 2020.