Smartcard and steam services plans revealed
Abellio took over operation of the ScotRail franchise from FirstGroup on 1 April.
The new franchise will run for seven years, with the option of a further three year extension at the Scottish government’s discretion.
Abellio will be introducing a new fleet of Hitachi AT200 EMUs on services between Edinburgh and Glasgow and on the Stirling-Alloa/Dunblane lines from December 2017. It will also bring in refurbished 2+5 formation HST sets on inter-city services between Scotland’s seven largest cities.
The launch of the new franchise was marked at Stirling station with a £1 million ticket giveaway available to passengers via a dedicated website. A new range of fares and a dedicated Scottish smartcard are also promised.
The new franchise is to become part of an alliance with Network Rail, jointly managing operations and infrastructure north of the border. It has been confirmed that Phil Verster, currently Network Rail’s London North East Route managing director, is to lead the alliance.
Other planned developments include better facilities for cyclists, free Wi-Fi on all trains, improvements to stations and a £1 million community engagement programme. The Borders Railway is set to join the ScotRail network on 6 September, and Abellio says it plans to celebrate this with a programme of steam-hauled services along the new line for the first six weeks of operation.
Dominic Booth, Abellio UK Managing Director, said ‘The ScotRail team are handing over a franchise in very good shape and we are grateful. However, we are determined that ScotRail will now go beyond A-to-B and play a truly strategic role in the long-term success of the country.’