Mike Rumbles (North East Scotland) (LD):
We know that 54 class 43 high-speed trains - the old Intercity 125s - will enter service across Scotland later this year, after substantial refurbishment. What is the expected lifetime mileage capacity of a class 43 train?
It should be said that refurbishment of older rolling stock is not uncommon. In fact, many people in the rail industry will say that the effect of refurbishing a train - I am pleased that some of the refurbishment work in question is being done here in Scotland - can be equivalent to the provision of new rolling stock.
We expect the trains to perform to their capability for the time that we have them for the lease. They will make a transformative difference: for the first time, we will have a high-speed intercity network between Scotland's cities. [The 'HSTs, whilst very comfortable, much more powerful and a great improvement over the current trains, will not produce a "high-speed network" as maximum linespeeds have not been raised - Ed]
Bill Reeve (Director of Rail - Transport Scotland):
I do not think that there is any such thing as a mileage capability for a train. The question is whether we keep it re-engineered and as good as new. The trains have already had new engines fitted recently. We are putting new power-operated doors on and controlled-emission toilets in. If you are interested, Mr Rumbles, it would be worth going to have a look at the extent of the re-engineering on the carriages. They are stripped right down to the metal, all corrosion is removed and new metal is put in place.
From colleagues around the rail industry, there is a widespread appreciation that the carriages are about to come and that the refit that they are getting will make them among the most popular intercity carriages anywhere in Britain. As an engineer, I do not recognise the concept of a limited mileage for a fleet of that nature.