It was hailed as a “milestone” journey as Scotland’s first high-speed train pulled out of Aberdeen at 12.55pm yesterday.
But the inaugural voyage of ScotRail’s Inter7City suffered a setback when it broke down just north of Ladybank, reportedly arriving in the capital 30 minutes behind schedule.
The Edinburgh-bound Inter7City cost around £2 million to upgrade, with passengers enjoying more seats, more space for luggage, more plug sockets and a greater choice of food and drink.
But an air leak in the locomotive brought the train to a standstill in Fife with repairs carried out by on-board engineers.
The train had been due to return to Aberdeen but it was instead moved to a depot in Edinburgh.
Philip Haigh, a railway journalist who was on board yesterday, said the train had been due at Waverley at 2.28pm but arrived 30 minutes later.
He said the breakdown was an “embarrassment” for ScotRail, but added: “ScotRail would not have wanted this today but these problems are occurring because they are trying to make things better. They are trying to run more trains, faster trains. They are trying to do the right thing but these things don’t happen easily.”
ScotRail said there had been a “short delay” due to a technical issue but the train was on the move quickly again.
The train, a refurbished InterCity 125, is due to go into public service between Aberdeen and Edinburgh on Monday, ultimately cutting the journey time by ten minutes. It is the first of 26 that will connect Scotland’s cities by December 2019.
Ann Glen, railway author, said the train upgrade had been “desperately” needed given the shortage of seats and lack of luggage space.
She added: “This is raising the game to a whole new level of travel in Scotland on the railway, no doubt about it, and it is long overdue.”
The new Inter7City, first built around 40 years ago, will travel at 100mph in accordance with Scotland’s line capabilities with hopes to increase speeds to around 110mph in the future. Alex Hynes, managing director of ScotRail Alliance, said: “This is another major milestone in our plan to build the best railway Scotland has ever had.
“This is going to be great for commuters who want more seats, it is going to be great for business travellers who want an inter city-style product to enable them to get out of their cars and onto the railway and is going to be great for tourists.”
The first Inter7City should have launched in May with Mr Hynes earlier describing the delivery of the refurbishment by firm Wabtec as “dreadful”.
He said: “We are working night and day to complete the refurbishment as quickly as possible.