19 April 2023
West Midlands Railway sees first Class 196s carry passengers on maiden voyage, running from Birmingham New Street to Worcester Shrub Hill.
A brand new West Midlands Railway (WMR) train fleet has carried its first passengers on the Hereford Line. The pair of two-car Class 196s (196005 and 196006) left Birmingham New Street shortly before 18.00 on Monday, April 17 for its maiden journey to Worcester Shrub Hill. The rollout means the fleet is now serving passengers in new locations including Bromsgrove, Droitwich and Worcester.
The start of passenger services on the route follows the fleet’s introduction on the Shrewsbury Line in October. There are a total of 26 trains in the Class 196 fleet, whose features include intelligent air conditioning, plug and USB chargers at every seat and extra storage space. The trains offer 25% more capacity than the fleet they replace.
Jonny Wiseman, WMR customer experience director, said: “I am delighted that even more passengers are now able to take advantage of our newest train fleet with the rollout of the Class 196s onto the Hereford Line. With smart air conditioning, power points at every seat and extra space on board, I am certain these trains will prove a hit with our passengers in Herefordshire and Worcestershire.”
The Class 196 is the first new fleet to be introduced to the West Midlands franchise for more than a decade and is part of its £690m investment in new trains and infrastructure. Initially a small number of journeys on the Hereford Line will be run by Class 196s as the new trains are drip-fed into service over coming months.
The trains are also due to enter service on the Leamington to Nuneaton route later this year, serving communities including Coventry, Kenilworth and Bedworth. 196004 was officially named Sir Edward Elgar at a special ceremony last month.
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