THE first in a fleet of new trains that will serve Bolton has left its factory in Spain for track testing.

The Class 195 diesel multiple unit (DMU) departed the CAF facility at Irun, northern Spain, to begin a long journey which will end at Velim in the Czech Republic.

The new unit was placed on to the back of a low-loader and will be shipped to Germany before being loaded back onto a lorry and making its way to Velim.

Ian Hyde, Northern’s head of new trains, said: “It made its first move under its own power on March 7. We’ve worked for so long on the design and construction of the new trains it’s a real thrill to see one on the move for the first time, even if is only for a few metres.”

The train is scheduled to arrive at the test track by the end of the week where it will undergo commissioning work on-site. Then, towards the end of the month, full track testing will begin.

It is one of 98 new DMUs able to travel up to 100 mph, that will be introduced by Northern by 2020, and will feature free wifi, plug sockets at every seat and air conditioning.

There will be 43 electric and 55 new units, which are a mixture of two, three, and four-car services — a total of 281 new carriages — costing a total £490 million.

Mr Hyde added: “Once work is complete in Velim we expect to see the first of the new trains in the UK in the summer for further testing, before they head out onto the Northern network to carry passengers in December.”

The new trains will provide an increased capacity of around 40 per cent compared to current trains and will replace outdated pacer trains that must be removed by 2020.

The trains, which have a lifespan of around 35 years, will also have a seat reservation system which passengers can access up to 10 minutes before departure.

Network Rail are currently installing electrification along the Manchester to Preston line to enable the new electric trains to run through Bolton.

Significant engineering projects have been undertaken along the route to enable electrification. At Farnworth, wider holes had to be bored through the tunnels to accommodate overhead wiring.

Work was complicated by a landslip at Moses Gate bridge on August 17, 2017.