Transport for Wales confirm new Class 197 trains will operate on the Wrexham to Bidston line
Brand new trains that will “transform and improve transport throughout Wales and the borders” will be on show at Chester railway station today.
Assembled by CAF at their factory in Newport, the first Class 197 train with its ‘Made in Wales’ tag will be revealed to the public today (Friday 1 July), offering a taste of what’s to come for customers in the next few months.
TfW are spending £800 million on new trains throughout their network and the Class 197 will be the first of the brand-new stock to enter service in North Wales before the end of this year.
Providing an increase in capacity, reduced emissions and enhanced comfort onboard, these trains will allow TfW to run faster and more frequent services to key routes including to destinations such as Holyhead, Fishguard and Liverpool.
TfW has also confirmed that the new Class 197 train will operate on the Wrexham to Bidston line which serves a number of Flintshire stations including Shotton, Hawarden and Buckley.
In May Deeside.com reported that a Class 197 train was spotted being put through its paces on the Wrexham to Bidston line raising hopes that passengers who use the line will finally get to travel on new trains,
TfW purchased five Class 230 trains – which use the bogies and aluminium bodyshells of withdrawn London Underground trains – in 2018.
The intention was to bring the new hybrid diesel/battery units into service in 2019 but TfW only took delivery of units from Vivarail in July 2020.
Staff training requirements were hampered by the Pandemic leading to further delays.
Other delays have been caused by “technical issues,” in July last year, training was temporarily suspended after a small fire on one of the units.
TfW had hoped to bring the Class 230 units into operation on the Wrexham to Bidston in May but a further battery-related ‘thermal’ incident in April led to the implementation programme being suspended.
On the new Class 197 trains, Deputy Minister for Climate Change with responsibility for Transport, Lee Waters said: “I am pleased to welcome the new Class 197 trains to the rail network.”
“These new vehicles represent a real transformational improvement on the trains that they will be replacing, providing comfortable and frequent services, encouraging people to leave their cars behind and move onto a more sustainable form of transport.”
Alexia Course, TfW’s Director of Transport Operations, said: “At Transport for Wales we’re continually moving forward with our transformational plans to improve public transport for the people of Wales and the borders.
“The Class 197s on show at Chester railway station today will be an important part of the transformation of the Wales and Borders network, and when they enter service, they will enable us to run more services and carry more customers in comfort.
“The construction of our new trains has been four years in the making, and customers and colleagues are incredibly excited to welcome passengers onto them from later this year.
“It’s also important to recognise that these trains have been made in Wales at the CAF factory in Newport and the building of them has provided jobs and supported the local economy”.
Cllr David A Bithell, Deputy Leader with responsibility for strategic transport, said, “I welcomed the opportunity to see first-hand these very impressive trains.
“It’s great to see such investment in Wales and to see such commitment to upgrading services for customers across Wales and the borders by Transport for Wales.
“I’m sure passengers will appreciate the improvements when they come into service in the area later in the year.”
There is no indication as yet when the Class 197s will be operating on the Wrexham to Bidston Line.
The Class 197s will be operating on the following lines when in service:
North Wales Coast (Holyhead-Manchester/
Conwy Valley Line (Llandudno-Blaenau Ffestiniog)
Borderlands Line (Wrexham-Bidston)
Marches Line (Cardiff-Manchester/Liverpool)
Cambrian Line (Birmingham-Aberystwyth/
Ebbw Vale Line (Ebbw Vale-Cardiff/Newport)
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