HomeRail NewsFull Glasgow to Edinburgh electric service in July

Full Glasgow to Edinburgh electric service in July

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With electrification delays and windscreen problems on the new Hitachi class 385 EMUs, passengers between Scotland’s two big cities have been waiting for some time for their promised new trains. As 16 of the class 170 DMUs that operate this route are being transferred south to Northern this year. Hence it looked like this service would get worse before it got better.

Now there is to be a full 8-car electric service between Edinburgh and Glasgow in July offering 27 per cent more seats. This will be possible as a result of ScotRail’s rapid introduction of displaced four-car class 365 EMUs as an interim arrangement. These units recently worked London to Peterborough services and have now replaced by Thameslink Class 700 EMUs.

They are known as the ‘happy train’ as a modification to fit cab air-conditioning included a ‘grinning’ cab front air intake.

As these units were not gauge cleared, the first three units were transported to Scotland by road with the first one arriving at the end of April to allow static training and modification work to start. Although there was some criticism of this road movement, it enabled preparatory work in Scotland to start as soon as possible to ensure an earlier introduction of the units.

Within a relatively short time of two weeks, the gauge assessment had been completed to allow the remaining units to come to Scotland by rail and for driver training to start.

This assessment showed that, to run in Scotland, the units required a bogie centre pivot packing piece to raise them by 20 mm and for their passenger doorway steps to be cut back by 45 mm. This work is being done by Knorr-Bremse RailServices at Springburn in Glasgow. Initially the units used for driver training have all their doorway steps removed to avoid the need to wait for a modified unit before this training could start.

The demanding programme to introduce these units in a short timescale involves ScotRail, Network Rail, DGauge, SNC Lavalin, Eversholt Rail, Knorr-Bremse RailServices and their previous operators, Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) who have provided support for maintenance training at their Hornsey depot. ScotRail is also in close consultation with the trade unions concerned. All parties are working closely together to ensure that these units can be introduced as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, the problem with the curved windscreens fitted to the class 385 EMUs is close to resolution. On 25th May, ScotRail announced that after trialling a unit fitted with a flat windscreen, feedback from all parties, including the driver’s union Aslef, is that this flat windscreen is fit for purpose. However, before they can enter service, the type approval process has to be finalised, mileage accumulations runs are required and the new flat windscreens need to be fitted to the units that have already been built. This is also to be done at the Knorr-Bremse RailServices depot at Springburn.

With the uncertain timescale to resolve the class 385 windscreen problem and existing units due to be sent south, ScotRail’s introduction of the class 365 units as an interim measure will ensure provide the required extra seats on the Edinburgh to Glasgow route as soon as possible. However now that there is a solution for the class 385 windscreen problem, it will be interesting to see which of these two types of units is the first to enter passenger service between Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Read more: On board ScotRail’s new Class 385


David Shirres BSc CEng MIMechE DEM
David Shirres BSc CEng MIMechE DEMhttp://therailengineer.com

Rolling stock, depots, Scottish and Russian railways

David Shirres joined British Rail in 1968 as a scholarship student and graduated in Mechanical Engineering from Sussex University. He has also been awarded a Diploma in Engineering Management by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

His roles in British Rail included Maintenance Assistant at Slade Green, Depot Engineer at Haymarket, Scottish DM&EE Training Engineer and ScotRail Safety Systems Manager.

In 1975, he took a three-year break as a volunteer to manage an irrigation project in Bangladesh.

He retired from Network Rail in 2009 after a 37-year railway career. At that time, he was working on the Airdrie to Bathgate project in a role that included the management of utilities and consents. Prior to that, his roles in the privatised railway included various quality, safety and environmental management posts.

David was appointed Editor of Rail Engineer in January 2017 and, since 2010, has written many articles for the magazine on a wide variety of topics including events in Scotland, rail innovation and Russian Railways. In 2013, the latter gave him an award for being its international journalist of the year.

He is also an active member of the IMechE’s Railway Division, having been Chair and Secretary of its Scottish Centre.


  1. Why not allow ScotRail to use some of the Class 365’s to operate on some suburban lines across the Strathclyde area in & out of Glasgow Central. And to replace the Class 314’s and Class 318’s.

    Whilst GTR Great Northern are getting rid of the Class 365’s because they have got the Class 387’s in service and Thameslink Class 700’s that are to replace the Class 365’s since the new timetable started on the 20th May. Plus new Class 717’s trains that are currently being manufactured in Germany are due to enter service on the Moorgate Northern City line and Hertford Loop line from summer (August or September) and are to replace the Class 313’s that are 40 years old.

    As the rest of the Class 365’s are likely to be sent for storage.

  2. Good news! But will there be enough 365s for all services to be electric at the peaks given the 15 minute frequency? I understood that Scotrail were planning to lease 10 four coach 365s and that there were 2 three coach and 2 four coach 380s in use at present, which would leave them short at the peaks and with nothing in reserve. Hopefully some 385s will be available comparatively soon now that it appears that the replacement windscreen is satisfactory. (Although Alex Hynes tweeted recently that his bet would be on the 365s being on the E & G first!)

  3. I am disappointed to read that the E&G 170’s are going South. Us Borderers were counting on getting some of them to replace our decrepit and unreliable 158’s The Tweedbank line has been a great success, and deserves better rolling stock. If you haven’t ridden a 158, full and standing, as it grinds up Falahill with everyone with their fingers crossed, then it is time someone from head office did so. Also the state of the seating in these 158’s has to be seen to be believed. Anyone as big as I am (6ft) has a most uncomfortable journey as the seats are far too close together.

  4. In the bottom paragraph the new trains are accidentally, twice, called 395 instead of 385. At least, I don’t expect Southeastern’s Javelin trains to enter Scotland any time soon!


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