New £800 million train fleet for Wales and Borders officially launched

A new £800m fleet of trains that are set to form the backbone of services in Wales and the borders have been officially launched.

A new TfW 197 on the Conwy Valley Line at Llandudno junction
A new TfW 197 on the Conwy Valley Line at Llandudno junction

Built in Wales by leading train manufacturer CAF, the 77 (51 two-car and 26 three-car) new Class 197 trains are coming into service with train company Transport for Wales (TfW).

The new trains entered into passenger service on the Conwy Valley line at the end of 2022 and were unveiled by Minister for North Wales Lesley Griffiths MS at a ceremony at Llandudno railway station on Thursday (Jan 26).

The trains offer leather seats, modern air conditioning systems, wider doors and customer information screens.

The train company says the new locomotives will play a key role in TfW’s plans to transform the customer experience on its services.

Lee Waters, the deputy minister for climate change with responsibility for transport, said: “This is great news. Funded by our £800m investment in a new fleet of trains, the Class 197s play an important part in our plans to transform rail services in Wales.

“Having travelled on the Class 197s, I can vouch for the greater comfort, speed and capacity offered by these new trains that will not only be used by Welsh passengers but were also made in Wales.”

Lesley Griffiths said: “I was very pleased to officially launch Transport for Wales’ impressive new trains in Llandudno.

“This made-in-Wales fleet signals an important improvement to rail services and I’m sure passengers will enjoy travelling across North Wales lines on the Class 197s.”

Providing an increase in capacity and enhanced comfort onboard, the new trains will allow TfW to run faster and more frequent services to destinations such as Holyhead, Fishguard and Liverpool.

The 77 trains being built by CAF have also been fitted with electronic charging points and disability features for those with limited mobility.

James Price, Transport for Wales CEO, said: “The official launch of the Class 197s is a landmark day in the history of Transport for Wales and the Welsh rail industry, with the unveiling of the first brand new trains in Wales in a generation.

“The construction of our new trains has been four years in the making, and we’re incredibly proud and excited to formally welcome passengers onto them. The trains will be an important part of the transformation of the Wales and Borders network and will enable us to run more services and carry more customers in comfort.

“It’s also important to recognise that these trains have been made in Wales at the CAF factory in Newport and the building of them has provided jobs and supported the local economy.”

CAF UK Director Richard Garner said: “This is a memorable day for CAF. We are extremely proud to play a key role in delivering TfW's commitment to transform rail travel for passengers, ensuring a high quality, reliable and comfortable journey.

"Our trains are being built in Wales to serve the Welsh communities, supporting highly skilled jobs and bringing local employment opportunities whilst focusing on sustainability issues and addressing the needs of the Welsh economy.”

The Class 197s will sit alongside the 71 brand new trains and tram-trains being built for the South Wales Metro, the first of which has recently entered into passenger service.

A total of 148 brand new trains will deliver faster, more frequent and greener services.

The name of this brand-new train will also be unveiled by the regional winner of the Magnificent Train Journey competition. The competition was a once-in-a-generation opportunity for primary school children to become part of rail history by naming up to148 of the brand-new trains being built for Wales and its borders.

Children across Wales were asked to come up with names based on either a real place, landmark, historical site or mythical figure associated with places in Wales and its border regions; and to submit something creative, such as a poem, story or picture, to explain why they chose that name. CBeebies star Grace Webb, popular S4C presenter Trystan Ellis-Morris, Children’s Laureate for Wales Eloise Williams, and Bardd Plant Cymru Gruffudd Owen were among the judges of this exciting competition.

The Magnificent Train Journey also introduced young children to the importance of clean, sustainable travel, as well as special insight into the how these trains are built and the history of our railway in Wales.

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