The first of 26 new Class 196 diesel multiple units (DMUs) have entered service on the Shrewsbury Line, serving Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Telford. Next year, they will also be used on the Worcester and Hereford lines.
In all, 80 carriages have been built by manufacturer CAF at its factories in South Wales and Spain. It’s the first new fleet of trains to be introduced in the region in more than a decade.
The launch took place at a special event at Wolverhampton station, following a five-year procurement process that also featured the creation of the West Midlands Railway brand.
Meanwhile, a second new fleet, the Class 730 ‘Aventra’ electric multiple unitshttps://www.railmagazine.com/Admin/ArticleAdmin (EMUs), was originally due to carry passengers from May that year. These are now due to enter service early next year.
West Midlands Trains Managing Director Ian McConnell said: “It’s been a long time in coming - I think everyone knows that. There have been a lot of challenges, with COVID being the most significant one, certainly for the train manufacturer. It’s just great that we got through it.”
The new trains offer around 15% more seats (and 25% more capacity overall) than the existing fleet of Class 170s which they are replacing. A four-carriage train will have 311 seats, compared with the Class 170s which have 122 over two carriages and a total of 244 when two trains are coupled together.
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