Dutch passenger transport group Abellio has launched the new ScotRail franchise, which will see it operating the majority of the country’s trains for a period of ten years.
The £6bn franchise is expected to deliver improved services for passengers in the network, including brand new trains and flagship stations.
The operator will also bring significant changes in the fare and new transport integration programme that connects with ferries, buses and airports.
Abellio UK managing director Dominic Booth said: "This new railway will deliver passenger services between Edinburgh and the Scottish Borders for the first time since the 1960s and we will celebrate the launch with a programme of steam services for the first six weeks."
Abellio will introduce a Scottish nationwide smartcard to serve an integrated transport network and make travel easier and new fares starting at £5 for reservable journeys, and first-class advance purchase fares from £10.
As part of this franchise, a community rail programme will deliver up to 15 new Scottish Community Rail Partnerships and community ambassadors to promote the value and benefits of rail travel.
In March, Abellio signed a contract with Hitachi Rail Europe for the provision and maintenance of 70 new trains for the ScotRail franchise.
Under this contract, Hitachi will deliver 46 three-car and 24 four-car AT200 EMU trains to operate along the routes between Edinburgh and Glasgow, and between Stirling and Dunblane via Alloa.
The contract also includes a ten-year maintenance agreement, with plans currently in place to stable and service the trains at depots in Edinburgh.
Image: Abellio’s ScotRail franchise will bring brand new trains between Edinburgh and Glasgow, offering faster journey times and more capacity. Photo: courtesy of Abellio Group.