THE FIRST two trains in a new £500 million fleet have been officially unveiled to the public.

Northern’s new stock, which will eventually include electrically-powered trains on lines through Bolton, were revealed in a special event in Liverpool on Thursday.

With the diesel trains due to start entering service by the end of the year, the Northern officials claim the new vehicles will mean a “step-change” in quality for customers, with features such as free customer Wi-Fi, air conditioning, at-seat power and seat reservation systems.

The unveiling was attended by both David Brown, Northern’s managing director and Jake Berry, the government’s Northern Powerhouse minister.

It comes as the train firm plans to finally phase out the contentious Pacer trains, which have been running in the North West since they were improvised from bus parts in the 1980s.

Mr Brown said: “I was lucky enough to see the trains in production in Spain earlier in the year, but its’ even better to see them here in Liverpool – just weeks away from entering passenger service.

“The quality of what has been delivered is a real landmark for Northern and our customers, and to be able to demonstrate that quality to colleagues and stakeholders today is an incredibly proud moment for me.

“Now it only remains for us to share these fantastic new trains with our customers, so that they can experience the comfort and the benefits all the new on-board features bring.”

Mr Berry added: “These spacious, comfortable and modern new trains are a clear demonstration of both the Government and train operators commitment to the Northern Powerhouse and putting passengers at the heart of everything we do.

“We are investing in the biggest modernisation of our rail network since Victorian times, ensuring people receive the faster, more reliable and more frequent services they deserve.

“Over the next few months we will see these brand new, state-of-the-art trains start replace the out-dated Pacer trains, providing more seats and better journeys for passengers across the Northern Powerhouse.”

In total, there will be 55 diesel trains and 43 electric trains, with the stock mixed between two, three and four car units.

The trains have been undergoing testing in Britain after being manufactured by Spanish company CAF at a factory in Zaragoza.

Rail companies generally do not own the trains they operate, and in this case the new fleet is the property of Eversholt Rail - the giant firm also owns around a third of the UK’s rail stock.

Steve Timothy, client relations director at Eversholt, said: “We are delighted to see our new Class 195 DMU and Class 331 EMU trains built by CAF in Liverpool today, on the verge of entering passenger service with Northern.

“We hope Northern’s customers will enjoy travelling on them in due course.”

Richard Garner, CAF UK Director, added: “The official launch of our trains is the culmination of a successful collaboration between our company, Northern and Eversholt Rail.

“It is extremely gratifying to know that in just a few months’ time the first customers will experience our high-quality, high-performance trains on this important and busy rail network across the north of England.”

The unveiling of its new trains came in a tough week for Northern, with the Office of Road and Rail (ORR) announcing yesterday that it would be beginning an official investigation into the events of May’s timetable change and the resulting disruption.

Investigators will seek to decide whether Northern, and London firm GTR, breached its requirements to do everything reasonably practicable to provide appropriate, accurate and timely information to passengers in the run-up to the national timetable change.