Rail passengers got the first hint of what train travel could look like under the new Northern Rail franchise.
Arriva will take over the running of regional trains across Lancashire and the Fylde from April and have promised new rolling stock to replace the hated Pacer trains.
This week a deal was signed a deal with Spanish train maker CAF to supply to supply 281 new vehicles worth £490m, via leasing company Eversholt Rail.
It means electric-powered Civity trains with a top speed of 100mph will be in service by December 2018.
Arriva said plans for its multi-million pound investment programme in the Northern rail franchise had moved a step closer with the deal.
Chris Burchell, managing director of Arriva’s UK Trains Division, said: “We feel hugely privileged to have been given the opportunity to transform travel for passengers across the North of England and today’s contract signing allows us to replace the outdated, unpopular Pacer trains as soon as possible.
“We are delighted to partner with CAF and Eversholt Rail Group to meet the high specification and demanding timetable for delivery of the new rolling stock.
“I hope that today’s announcement once again makes clear our determination to deliver on our promises to passengers.”
The new trains will have air conditioning, audio and visual on-board passenger information systems,power sockets and tables, cycle racks, toilets digital CCTV systems, and free Wifi for passengers.
Paul Nettleton, from the Blackpool and Fylde Rail Users Association, said: “I’ve been saying for a while that the world of the rail user will change for the better, within a couple of years and with the introduction of both electric and diesel units this will become apparent, especially if the long-suffering passenger has had to endure the infamous Pacer. Having said all that, the North has had to put up with inferior rolling stock for far too long and in the cold light of day this area is just playing ‘catch up’.
“From 2018, the Fylde will, at long last, have a rail service to be justly proud of.
“Add to this investment the services Alliance Rail will be running from Blackpool North to London using new Pendolino sets, and provided fares aren’t set too high, it will persuade a lot of car users to leave their vehicles in the garage and use the train.”
A spokesman for CAF said: “These projects include the supply of 43 electric trains of three and four carriages and 55 diesel trains of two and three carriages (a total of 281 passenger carriages) for commuter and regional services with a top speed of 100 mph.
“In addition to the supply of rolling stock, these contracts also encompass technical and logistic support services for both fleets.
Diesel Pacer trains, built between 1980 and 1987 currently in use on the lines, have been described by passengers as uncomfortable, particularly for anyone with disabilities.