IT WAS all aboard at Worcester Shrub Hill station on Friday as West Midlands Railway unveiled the slick new class 196 train fleet which will soon be serving passengers across the county.
The fleet comprises 26 trains spilt between the New Street to Hereford line, which stops at Bromsgrove, Droitwich, Worcester and Malvern, and WMRs Birmingham to Shrewsbury and Leamington to Nuneaton routes.
Friday’s preview ceremony saw WMR chiefs joined by local passenger groups, who got to board the train on a journey to Birmingham Snow Hill, where they were greeted by West Midlands Mayor Andy Street.
The High Sheriff of Worcestershire, Andrew Manning-Cox, joined the Shrub Hill ceremony, where he officially named the launch train after the world-famous composer Sir Edward Elgar, who spent much of his life living in the county.
He said: “The beating heart of Worcestershire is its people and the railway is about connecting those communities.
“One of the other ways we bring people together is through culture and music and Sir Edward Elgar is a shining example of that, he is a true man of Worcestershire who has delighted millions of people across the globe.
“His statue stands proudly in Worcester city centre and if you stay on the train and get off at Malvern you’ll find a similar tribute to him there, this is Elgar country and I’m delighted staff at West Midlands Railway have had that in their minds.”
The new trains will begin to serve the county’s passengers next month and feature more chairs and tables, air conditioning and plug and USB chargers at every seat.
Other new features include see-through luggage racks so the more forgetful passengers will be less likely to leave items behind.
The trains serving on the Birmingham to Hereford line will be comprised of between two and four carriages and will serve between 141 and 311 passengers.
Each carriage is a metre longer than the 13 to 23-year-old class 172s they are replacing, giving passengers more space.
The train fleet is part of a £690million investment by WMR to upgrade trains and infrastructure in the region, with plans under way to introduce new vehicles to serve the cross-city line between Birmingham New Street and Bromsgrove and Redditch.