We are currently working with Transport Scotland to bring the UK’s first active travel carriages to Scotland’s west coast.
The Class 153 carriages have been especially designed to support active travel, by providing people with the space and storage needed to comfortably take their bikes, skis, or other sporting gear with them on their journey.
Each carriage has a total of 20 individual bike racks as well as designated seating for 24 people.
Since we officially launched the project we have made considerable progress, even with all the incredible challenges of 2020.
We are now in the final stretch, with a total of three carriages set to hit the rails in 2021. The timings of this will, of course, be dependent on local restrictions and government guidance.
Initially, they will run along the stunning West Highland Line from Glasgow to Oban. Then we hope to extend the service to Fort William and Mallaig, and in time, look at bringing the concept to all corners of Scotland.
What has been done so far?
We contracted Kilmarnock-based Brodie Engineering to carry out the design and modification of the carriages. The team of engineers also delivered corrosion rectification work and engineering overhauls on the carriages which will extend the life and improve reliability, before the main refitment programme began.
Scottish-based artist Peter McDermott was brought on board to create the visual design of the carriages. He took inspiration from Scotland’s iconic Highland scenery and the design depicts some key landmarks from along the route, including Glenfinnan monument and viaduct, the Ben Lomond skyline and Loch Awe. The result is a bright, eye-catching design which captures the spirit of Scotland and the intended purpose of the Class 153 carriages.
What still needs to be done?
The next step for us is to roll out comprehensive driver training, which must be completed to ensure all our passengers can travel safely. We expect this to begin as soon as the current lockdown and travel restrictions are relaxed.
Why are we developing these carriages?
The Class 153 carriages will bring many benefits to our communities. We hope it will encourage tourism and movement around the country, while supporting domestic travel and interest in outdoor sport.