Fish bowl vision problem scuppers plans for new trains

12 February 2018

ASLEF, the train drivers’ union, has called on Humza Yousaf, Minister for Transport in the Scottish government, to ensure that ScotRail’s new trains are fit for purpose – and warned that unless modifications are made to ensure the trains are safe, drivers will refuse to work them.

Kevin Lindsay, ASLEF’s organiser in Scotland, said: ‘There’s a problem with the new Class 385 units that Transport Scotland and ScotRail have purchased. The windscreen is curved and, at night, is making drivers see two signals. It’s like looking through a fish bowl all the time. ScotRail is trying to get Hitachi to come up with a solution but, so far, I’m afraid, they have failed. I’ve informed ScotRail that we won’t allow these trains to come into service like this.’

The new Class 385 electric multiple unit is being built by Hitachi for ScotRail. The train company has ordered 70 (46 three-car and 24 four-car sets) to run from Glasgow to Edinburgh via Falkirk. They were due to come into service next month (March).

‘The effect of the squashed window means that the window is giving the impression that drivers are looking through a fish bowl to view signals,’ said Kevin. ‘I have advised the company that if this problem is not resolved to our satisfaction then we will inform our members that the trains are not safe to drive in the dark.’

Drivers on a recent test run travelling between Glasgow Central and Paisley Gilmour Street immediately became aware of problems viewing of signals from the driver’s cab while sitting at Glasgow Central waiting to leave. They reported: ‘We could see a reflection of the signals on the right hand side – showing two signals. This was even more noticeable when approaching signals travelling between Glasgow Central and Paisley when, on some occasions, we could view two or three signals when we should have been viewing only one.’

Kevin added: ‘The safety of passengers – and train crew – is absolutely paramount in the rail industry. ASLEF welcomes investment in new rolling stock and new infrastructure, but it has to be fit for purpose. That’s why I’m calling on the minister to ensure these trains are safe when they come into service.’

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