The long-awaited redevelopment of Scotland’s busiest railway took a significant step towards completion this week as an electric train travelled along part of the route for the first time.
One of the new Class 385 Hitachi electric trains – which has still to be fitted with interiors – successfully travelled between Edinburgh and Linlithgow at 2am on Wednesday.
It is one of a fleet of rolling stock commissioned for the newly electrified Edinburgh-Glasgow mainline via Falkirk High, which is used by thousands of commuters every day.
The trial marked the first time that an electric train has travelled on any section of the route, which has linked Scotland’s two biggest cities since 1842.
ScotRail bosses said that once final safety checks on the infrastructure along the remainder of the route were complete, full testing of the new trains would begin.
The new fleet is due to enter passenger service over the next few months, offering faster journeys and more seats for passengers.
The Edinburgh-Glasgow Improvement Project (EGIP) has seen platforms along the route lengthened and Haymarket and Queen Street stations rebuilt to handle longer trains and growing passenger numbers.
But the electrification of the route has been twice delayed, with electric trains originally expected to be in operation from December 2016. A second completition date of July was similarly missed.
ScotRail Alliance programmes director Ian McConnell said: “Wednesday’s trial was a hugely important step towards completing the electrification of the line between Edinburgh and Glasgow.
“Having a train run on the route is one of the final phases of the electrification process. That it has gone so well tells us that we are almost ready to begin the next stage – which is to start fully testing the new trains themselves.
“We are building the best railway that Scotland has ever had. When we replace the diesel trains with the brand new, state of the art, electric fleet we will deliver enormous benefits to our customers.
“More seats and faster journeys will completely transform travel between our two biggest cities.”