Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has launched the first new longer walk-through train into passenger service today as part of a £66million project to further transform Northern Ireland’s railway infrastructure.
Three new train carriages, delivered in March, have been integrated with the fully refurbished existing donor Class 4000 trains to create a more accessible and high-quality onboard customer experience.
This is the first of seven longer trains to be converted when all 21 carriages arrive allowing passengers to walk the full length of the train. Alongside delivering more seats thereby allowing us to transport more passengers via rail, this significant investment has also enabled associated infrastructure projects to be progressed including depot improvements, platform extensions and an upgrade to the driver training simulator.
Welcoming the latest milestone, Minister Mallon said: “I am committed to delivering sustainable infrastructure that will transform communities, improve lives and help tackle the climate crisis. Key to that commitment is ensuring we have a better functioning and thriving public transport network and that is why I want to invest in our rail infrastructure in particular, which will deliver for local people and visitors now and well into the future.
“My Department has invested over £66million in depot infrastructure and 21 new train carriages which will be used to convert the capacity of seven existing Class 4000 three car trains to six car sets. I am delighted that today, following a successful testing and commissioning programme, the first new extended train will enter passenger service providing passengers on some of our busiest routes with more capacity, space and comfort on their journeys. I hope that this investment will encourage more people to choose greener, more sustainable journeys by rail.
“I believe that rail has huge untapped potential to deliver multiple benefits across our island. It is therefore vital that we continue to invest in and modernise our rail network as we work to build back greener and more responsibly from Covid-19. I look forward to the delivery of the remaining carriages over the coming months which will bring further benefits for passengers and encourage more people to make the switch to public transport.
“This is just the start of our rail journey, after decades of underinvestment I am working on an ambitious programme, led by the All-Island Strategic Rail Review, to improve rail connectivity for communities and businesses across our island.”
Chris Conway, Translink Group Chief Executive, Translink said: “This exciting programme heralds another step change in the transformation of public transport here. Passengers will experience the latest standards in comfort, quality and accessibility with modern soft furnishing, at seat USB chargers and upgraded air conditioning.
“The pressing climate crisis is making people rethink how they travel, and we are already starting to see more people on board as restrictions ease. Many are telling us they want to use cleaner, healthier and more active travel modes as a simple way to take climate action particularly as we move towards COP26, the largest global climate conference being held in the UK this November.
“With around 1,600 additional seats available every day, these new trains are also greener and more energy efficient. This investment will help encourage even more people on board supporting NI’s low carbon economy, protecting the environment and ensuring a better, more inclusive and resilient future for everyone.
“I’d like to thank CAF and our own project teams for their ongoing hard work to deliver these trains on schedule and the Department for Infrastructure for the essential funding to deliver these enhancements.”
The new carriages have been built by Spanish train manufacturer Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF). The second lengthened train is also on schedule and due to start its programme of testing and commissioning shortly.
The remaining trains will continue to be phased into service with the last one planned for summer 2022.