PASSENGER operator Transport for Wales (TfW) has held a ceremony at Llandudno in North Wales to officially mark the launch of its new £800m fleet of class 197 DMUs.

The 77-strong fleet, comprising 51 two-car and 26 three-car Civity DMUs, has been built by CAF at its Welsh plant in Newport and will be used across TfW’s network serving Wales and the English border counties.

One of the new class 197 trains has been in service on the 43.5km Llandudno - Blaenau Ffestiniog Conwy Valley Line since the end of 2022, but TfW says it will now be deploying the fleet s more widely. As well as providing increased capacity and comfort, TfW says the class 197s will enable it to run faster and more frequent services on routes such as those to Holyhead, Fishguard and Liverpool.

This wider deployment follows route upgrades undertaken by infrastructure manager Network Rail, including gauge clearance work and track alterations to ensure the wider class 197 fleet can safely pass through bridges, platforms and tunnels. Alstom class 175 Coradia and BREL class 150/158 Sprinter DMUs have been mainstays of TfW’s longer-distance routes up to now and TfW plans to replace them with the class 197s.

At some TfW stations Network Rail has raised platform heights to ensure level boarding. It has also installed new stop car markers to help drivers with train positioning when calling at stations.

Equipment onboard includes leather seats, air conditioning, wider doors, electronic charging points, toilets accessible to passengers with reduced mobility and passenger information screens.

TfW CEO, Mr James Price, hails the arrival of the class 197s as “the first brand new trains in Wales in a generation” and says that the fact they were built in Wales has provided jobs and support for the local economy.

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