Designated carriages for bikes and large sporting equipment are to be introduced on one of Scotland’s most scenic routes, a first for the UK rail industry.

As part of the pilot, ScotRail is transforming five Class 153 trains to carry up to 20 bikes to enhance existing services on the West Highland Line, providing custom designed racks to accommodate bikes, sporting equipment and large items of luggage as well as more seats for customers.

The trains will also support winter sports in Scotland during the winter months, accommodating large bulky items such as ski bags and rucksacks.

Modified by Brodie Engineering in Kilmarnock, forming part of the firm’s expansion plans, the carriages will receive a full interior and exterior refresh including installation of free WiFi, at seat power sockets and a refurbished toilet with controlled emission toilet (CET) tank.

This unique project supports the Scottish Government’s commitment to economic development through active tourism and improved transport connectivity, getting more people to make active travel choices and providing opportunities to do so.

The first refurbished Class 153 carriage is due for delivery early 2020 and will be gradually rolled into service on the completion of staff training.

ScotRail Project Manager Tom Smith said:

“This innovative pilot is the first of its type in the UK and we’re delighted to have come up with something truly bespoke for Scotland and the West Highlands.

“We are continually looking to enhance the experience our customers have when travelling on our trains, and the introduction of these carriages will be a welcome boost for cyclists and those in search of outdoor pursuits.

“This project will support tourism, and bring wider economic benefits, along Scotland’s most scenic railways.”

Transport Scotland Director of Rail Bill Reeve said:

“This unique initiative will provide an affordable and accessible way to access the great outdoors and support more people to make active travel choices whilst delivering wider economic benefits for Scotland.

“It’s a very exciting time and we are another step closer to realising our ambitious Programme for Government commitment.”

Brodie Engineering Business Development Manager Jim Thomson said:

“Everyone is absolutely delighted that, yet another ambitious and exciting project is coming to life here at Brodie Engineering in Kilmarnock.

“Vehicle modification design is a core competency for our talented in-house engineering team and our highly skilled production team have extensive experience with Class 153s and the similar Class 155s, which we’ve been modifying for Northern over the past two years.

“The ability to design and manufacture on the same site really sets us apart from our competitors.”