ScotRail is having to show passengers how to get on and off trains because it is reintroducing carriages with old-fashioned doors that it hasn’t used widely for 16 years.
The operator has been faced with explaining manually-opened “slam doors” because the 40-year-old trains have not been refurbished in time with automatic ones.
ScotRail stopped using carriages with doors that open from the outside in 2002, other than on a handful of services. Since then, commuters may have forgotten how they work.
It has produced a two-minute video to demonstrate that rather than pushing a button, alighting travellers have to lean out of the window and pull down the door handle.
ScotRail admitted this could be a challenge for passengers with mobility problems, who it urged to contact its assisted travel helpline in advance.
There are also fears that trains could be delayed at departing stations if passengers forget to close the doors behind them.
They are centrally locked between stations to prevent accidental opening.
The first ten of a fleet of the 26 InterCity trains start running between Scotland’s seven cities on routes from Edinburgh and Glasgow to Aberdeen and Inverness today.
Similar LNER trains with slam doors operate between Edinburgh and the two northern cities, but not on the routes from Glasgow.
So far, only one of ScotRail’s fleet has been refurbished with electric automatic power doors.
Delays in the work by overhaul firm Wabtec has forced ScotRail to run others in what it described as “Classic” state, which also lack information screens and whose toilets flush on to the tracks.
The trains, which are being transferred from Great Western Railway in England, will be fitted with electric doors in due course.
Robert Samson, of passenger watchdog Transport Focus, said: “Slam door trains operate on the GB rail network but in Scotland they are a rarity. Advice to passengers together with on-train and station staff providing help and assistance will be beneficial in reducing station dwell times and ensuring a punctual service.”
A ScotRail spokesman said: “Some of the features on the Classic InterCity are different from what our customers are used to. The video we produced helps them to get familiar with the train before it comes into service.”
A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government’s Transport Scotland agency, which controls the ScotRail franchise, said: “Everyone would far prefer to have our fully upgraded, more modern units in service. The faster Wabtec can finalise the refurbishment programme the better for staff and passengers alike.”