Trains which will revolutionise North East rail travel must not be delayed any further, according to a local MSP.
A preview service between Aberdeen and Edinburgh with dual-engine Intercity trains was set to be unveiled this month – but ScotRail Alliance has said the roll-out has been “a challenge”.
Managing director Alex Hynes told the Scottish Parliament’s rural economy and connectivity committee that Great Western Railway trains are heading north part of the English high-speed rail project.
Scottish Conservative shadow rural affairs secretary Peter Chapman said the Intercity 125s will transform journeys but the first engine is already behind schedule.
After the committee he said: “The refurbished trains will represent a massive change in capacity, comfort and ability to keep to timetables across the North East when they come in.
“But ScotRail Alliance are conceding that the very first unit is already behind schedule.
“Increasing numbers of rail passengers want these trains and they want them now.”
Mr Hynes said the preview service is “unlikely” to happen this month.
North East region MSP Mr Chapman asked him: “Once you get your new Hitachi trains in place, there's going to be various movements of trains.
“The old Intercity 125s are going to get an upgrade I believe and they are going to go back into service from May 2018 on the Aberdeen and Edinburgh line.
“We're in May now, so is it going to happen on time?”
Mr Hynes said: “Contractual commitment to the first high-speed train is June and we're working hard with the heavy overhauler who's refurbishing the fleet at Doncaster to bring that train up to Scotland as soon as we can so we can start operating some preview services for customers.
“I think it's fair to say that that project is being a challenge and we're working very closely with them to get that train here as soon as we can.
“These trains are going to be thoroughly refurbished.
“The trains have come off Great Western Railway.
“We are going to improve the quality of the seating, the seat pitch, we're going to align seats with windows, we're going to introduce more tables.
“Currently three-and-a-half-hour journeys on a three-car diesel train will be transformed to a four or five car Intercity train with the engines at each end so you get intercity levels of quality.
“I think it's going to transform the customer experience on those longer distance routes so we're hoping to introduce the first service between Aberdeen and Edinburgh very shortly.
“It's unlikely to be this month, we've had some short delays with the heavy overhauler but we're working as fast as we can to remedy that.”