New trains delay knocks Fife rail improvements off track

It could be some time before Fifers see more carriages in Fife.
It could be some time before Fifers see more carriages in Fife.

Problems with a new type of train due to come into service have had a knock on effect for Fife commuters, meaning expected rail improvements have been pushed back.

A fleet of new Hitachi 385 electric trains were set to come into ScotRail service in May, which would free up more trains and carriages to be used in Fife, but delays with the delivery mean that it could be next year before improvements are made.

It is understood the issue causing the delay is the curved windscreens on the new trains, which can cause confusion over rail signals.

During tests earlier this year drivers raised concerns that the curved screens meant they were seeing several signals instead of just one.

Kirkcaldy MSP David Torrance said: “I hope the issues with the new engines from ScotRail’s suppliers Hitachi is fixed soon, so that Fife can benefit from more carriages.

“The stations in my constituency are well-used, and the commuters who pay the fares deserve a modern service that’s fit for purpose.”

Councillor Kathleen Leslie, who has previously called for better rail services in Fife, said: “It seems like Fife is at the bottom of the heap once again.

“Fair enough if there’s a safety issue, that has to come above everything else. It’s not as if these trains haven’t been used elsewhere before. The transport minister needs to be asking harsher questions.”

A ScotRail Alliance spokesman has confirmed that there is a delay in the delivery of the new Hitachi trains.

He said: “The introduction of our new trains and the electrification of the central belt will allow us to make best use of our existing fleet and make positive timetable changes in Fife.

“Our focus remains on helping our manufacturer, Hitachi Rail Europe, to safely introduce these brand new electric trains into passenger service as soon as possible.”

ScotRail has apparently ordered 46 three-car and 24 four-car sets from Hitachi.

The new trains would then go to the Edinburgh-Glasgow electrified line, meaning the trains previously used for that route could be used elsewhere, like Fife.

With a number of complaints about poor service and station skipping in November and December lat year, ScotRail assured Fife passengers that the issue stemmed from a lack of rolling stock, which would be updated around May this year.