ScotRail have provided an update on progress on the modification of 153DMUs for transporting cycles (reference the News item first published in November 2018).
As intimated 18 months ago, ScotRail is transforming five Class 153 trains to carry up to 20 bikes to enhance existing services on the West Highland Line by providing custom designed racks to accommodate bikes, sporting equipment and large items of luggage as well as more seats for customers. The modification of the Class 153 units is being carried out by Brodie Engineering in Kilmarnock. The first refurbished Class 153 carriage is now due for delivery in 2020 and units will be gradually rolled into service on the completion of staff training. ScotRail have left open an actual date which, in the current circumstances caused by Covi 19, is understandable.
A feature of the marketing of this service is the very colourful exterior art work which has been commissioned for the new carraige. There is no doubt that this is a welcome move in the direction of recognising the potential of the West Highland Lines to support active leisure activities, something that Friends of the WHL have advocated for many years. ScotRail have indicated that this is a pilot and, if successful, will be rolled out on the other Scottish ‘Scenic’ lines.
The interior appears, from the initial material supplied by ScotRail, rather spartan. This probably recognises that cyclists arrive with muddy cycles and feet. Whether saddle sore cyclists will appreciate the comfort of the seated area, remains to be tested. Whatever, the Society welcomes this positive step to encourage more practical solutions for the West Highland Lines.
For more information, you can read ScotRail’s press release here.