The latest generation of Intercity Express trains arrived at the Inverness depot for the first time yesterday ahead of its introduction later this year.
It is hoped that Hitachi’s “train with a brain” will offer greater comfort, shorter journeys and be much kinder to the environment while its on board computer will make it safer.
Designated the British Rail Class 800, it incorporates technology from Japan’s famous “bullet trains” and is part of the UK government’s £5.7 billion Intercity Express Programme.
They are the first hybrid passenger train in the country and can switch between electric or diesel power reducing harmful emissions by up to 90% even when burning diesel.
Passengers will reap the rewards of a more comfortable experience with wider carriages, better Wi-Fi and greatly extended leg room and a traffic light-style seat reservation system.
The introduction of the Hitachi trains will also see £5 million invested in upgrading the Inverness depot and staff training.
Tim Olton, General Manager for Hitachi in Scotland, said: “It is a different generation of train in terms of its technology, the comfort of the ride and the acceleration is just far superior.”
Stuart Nicol, Chief Executive of the Inverness Chamber of Commerce was invited to the presentation welcomed its introduction to the rolling stock fleet.
He said: “It is a very impressive piece of machinery, obviously cutting edge technology all the way through with a very high standard of fit out and it is great to think this train is going to be coming to Inverness.”
“That is also important in terms of securing jobs here within the depot and for the maintenance which is very positive for the city.”
The new train will also bring with it major changes to Inverness depot according to Derek Glasgow, the Inverness fleet manager.
He said: “The next 18 months the whole depot framework changes because obviously we have the Azuma [British Rail Class 800] will be arriving, HSTs arriving and the new sleepers arriving.
“And that is three new train modes and with our £5 million investment from Hitachi that assists everything coming into Inverness.”
The role out of the Intercity Express will begin this year most likely on the Edinburgh to London route with the full introduction planned for next year.
The Intercity Expresses will primarily serve the Inverness to Edinburgh/London routes.