Number of trains in British fleet 'could almost double'

THE number of trains in Britain is set to increase dramatically over the next 30 years in response to growing passenger demand, according to a new industry report.

The latest Long Term Passenger Rolling Stock Strategy, the fourth in the series, has just been published by the Rolling Stock Strategy Steering Group, which has members from the Rail Delivery Group and rolling stock companies.

It predicts that the fleet will have grown by between 51 and 99 per cent by 2045, with between 13,000 and 20,00 new electric vehicles having been built. It also expects that more than nine out of ten trains will be electrically-powered by 2034.

To keep up with demand, an average of 17 vehicles a week will be built over the next five years alone.

The joint chairs of the Steering Group are Angel Trains CEO Malcolm Brown and the managing director of the rail division at National Express, Andrew Chivers said: “Passenger numbers have doubled in the last 20 years and are predicted to keep rising, therefore we must expand Britain’s fleet of trains to avoid crowding and to meet the challenges ahead.

“Passengers will benefit from billions of pounds already being spent on more modern, more comfortable and more reliable trains. More electric vehicles will improve services with shorter journey times and quieter trains.”

RDG chief executive Paul Plummer added: “Passengers want better services and faster journeys so we are investing in a new generation of trains with more carriages, more seats and better facilities. Rail is ever more important in Britain and it is vital that we plan long-term for the bigger, better railway that the nation and our economy need.”

The publication of this report has followed the unveiling of an Intercity Express train in London on Friday. Virgin Trains East Coast said its new fleet, built by Hitachi and mostly assembled in Newton Aycliffe, will be in service in 2018. The fleet is being dubbed 'Azuma' -- 'East' in Japanese.

At the ceremony at King's Cross, Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson said: "This is a hugely important moment for passengers on the East Coast. A line which has witnessed the historic Flying Scotsman and Mallard will now see passenger services transformed with the UK’s most advanced long distance trains. Our customers on the West Coast have already seen what Virgin can bring to train travel and how the Pendolinos have made a huge difference to speed and comfort. Our new fleet of Azumas will bring a similar transformation to the East Coast, and propel one of the UK’s most prestigious lines into the 21st century.”

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