West Midlands Trains is due to introduce its first new Alstom-built Class 730 Aventra EMU on the Walsall to Wolverhampton route on 12 February, after this issue went to press. WMT held a launch event for the class on 8 February.
WMT has a fleet of 48x3-car ‘730/0s’ on order from Alstom, financed by Corelink Rail Infrastructure, for services in the West Midlands conurbation, all of which have been accepted by the operator. Initially there will be just one diagram for the ‘730s’ on the Walsall to Wolverhampton route via Birmingham, replacing a Class 350, while WMT progresses its driver training programme in the region.
Once sufficient drivers are trained, expected to be in the spring, the ‘730s’ will be introduced on the Cross City line, replacing the 30-year-old Class 323s there, and then the remainder of the rollout on the Walsall to Wolverhampton and Birmingham International to Rugeley routes will be completed. The ‘730s’ will be deployed in pairs on the Cross City line and singly on other routes; on the Cross City this will provide a significant capacity increase as they have 2+2 seating and spacious vestibules for standing passengers, compared to the 3+2 layout on the ‘323s’. It is hoped all diagrams will have transitioned to ‘323s’ by late summer.
- A full report is in the March edition of Modern Railways, out on 23 February.