Introduction to service
The class 334 is part of the Juniper range built by Alstom as a replacement for the veteran Class 303 units. The 40 strong fleet made up of 3 car sets were built between 1998 and 2000 and featured seating for 183 passengers, Passenger Information Displays, automatic doors between carriges, air conditioning and toilets with disabled access. Deliveries and their introduction to service were supposed to have started during 1999 but serious problems kept them out of service for a long time.
The delay of their introduction resulted in Alstom building an extra 2 sets as a good will gesture meaning that the original order of 38 was increased to 40. Once testing finally started during 2000, there was a couple of incidents and numerous breakdowns which delayed introduction. An incident of note was when 334001 whilst stabled at Platform 11a in Glasgow Central whilst on test, rolled away and derailed on a set of catch points. The delay in delivering these units to Scotrail meant that the then 42 year old class 303's which were to be replaced by the class 334's had to soldier on for longer than expected. There was many reports that the 303's were reputedly more reliable in service than the 334s during this time!!!!
334010 and 334020 were the units used to form the first 334 operated service on the 3rd April 2001 and they operated a service to Gourock. As the first 334s started to appear in service in April 2001, some of the 318s from the Ayrshire lines began to be cascaded on to the Argyle line in May that year.
By late 2001, the 334s began to appear on the Cathcart Circle lines when short of 314s to operate these services, taking over this role from the 303's.
North Clyde and Argyle Line were reached in September 2002 where for 3 months it was possible to catch both a 303 and a 334. For a time after introduction on these lines the 334s seemed to be confined to peak time services with 303's, 318s and 320s being used off peak on these lines before eventually taking on a more equal role once the final 303's had been withdrawn.
December 2002 saw a special trip to Ayr by 334024 to finally properly accept the 334s in service. This trip was for the press and special guests. December 2002 also saw the introduction of sets 001,002,009,039 and 040 which allowed SPT to withdraw the final 6 303s (001,003,004,011,043 and 088). By July 2011 the 334's had transferred from the Ayrshire lines and are now on the North Clyde / Airdrie - Bathgate and Argyle lines. By 2011
March 2003 saw 334001 being named Donald Dewar after the Late "First" First Minister of Scotland whilst 334021 was named Larkhall in 2005 after the newly reopened line.
At present the class 334's can be found mainly on the North Clyde line and running right out to Edinburgh Waverley and also some use on the Argyle line.
18 of the 334's are painted in a modified variation of the SPT Carmine and Cream livery with blue stripes on the body sides and Strathclyde Passenger Transport branding on the sides. The fronts of the units have yellow warning panels. 22 of the units have had their SPT livery replaced with the new Saltire blue livery which all Scotrail units will be receiving in the next few years.
Good / Bad points about the 334's
Like all types of train there are some good and some bad points to the class 334's
The good points are that the seats are comfortable, the interior is smart with bright lighting, the trains are disability friendly, they have a nice livery, they're fast, with quick acceleration and braking.
The bad points are that the motors and brakes make a loud whining noise when the train is accelerating and braking, on some sets when the pantograph is passing over a dead section of overhead line most of the lights go out and sometimes dont come back on again. They have a low seating capacity compared to the other types of unit in operation and when busy the units can get cramped with not alot of space for standing.
Who could forget "annoying Annie" the announcer who used to announce the upcoming station stops when the 334's were first introduced. "Annoying Annie" spoke in a monotone voice and sounded fed up. There were also a few blips and errors in pronouncing station names such as,
Fortunately Annoying Annie has been replaced with a new voice from a different actress who sounds alot better than Annie ever did (she even apologises if a 3 car set appears instead of the usual 6 car set as well).
Class 334 Unit Formation summary
|Unit Number||Livery||Vehicle Numbers||Unit Name||Notes||year entered service|
|334001||Saltire||64101 74301 65101||Donald Dewar||This unit was the first to arrive in Scotland, first to be used in testing, however the unit derailed after running away from Central Station when stabled at Platform 11a in 2000. Unit was first 334 to be named.||2002|
|334002||Saltire||64102 74302 65102||Was the final 334 to enter service entering service in December 2002||2002|
|334003||Saltire||64103 74303 65103||2001|
|334004||Saltire||64104 74304 65104||2001|
|334005||Saltire||64105 74305 65105||2002|
|334006||Saltire||64106 74306 65106||2001|
|334007||Saltire||64107 74307 65107||2002|
|334008||Saltire||64108 74308 65108||2002|
|334009||Saltire||64109 74309 65109||Unit was one of the last to enter service as it was used as a test train for a while||2002|
|334010||Saltire||64110 74310 65110||Worked first ever 334 passenger journey of a 334 with 020 to Gourock in 2001||2001|
|334011||Saltire||64111 74311 65111||2001|
|334012||Saltire||64112 74312 65112||2002|
|334013||Saltire||64113 74313 65113||2001|
|334014||Saltire||64114 74314 65114||2001|
|334015||Saltire||64115 74315 65115||2002|
|334016||Saltire||64116 74316 65116||2001|
|334017||Saltire||64117 74317 65117||2002|
|334018||Saltire||64118 74318 65118||2002|
|334019||Saltire||64119 74319 65119||2001|
|334020||Saltire||64120 74320 65120||Worked the first 334 passenger service to Gourock with set 010 in 2001||2002|
|334021||Saltire||64121 74321 65121||Larkhall||2001|
|334022||Saltire||64122 74322 65122||2002|
|334023||Saltire||64123 74323 65123||2001|
|334024||Saltire||64124 74324 65124||Did the press + official trip to offically introduce the 334s in December 2002||2001|
|334025||Saltire||64125 74325 65125||2001|
|334026||Saltire||64126 74326 65126||2001|
|334027||Saltire||64127 74327 65127||2001|
|334028||Saltire||64128 74328 65128||2001|
|334029||Saltire||64129 74329 65129||2001|
|334030||Saltire||64130 74330 65130||2002|
|334031||Saltire||64131 74331 65131||2002|
|334032||Saltire||64132 74332 65132||2002|
|334033||Saltire||64133 74333 65133||2002|
|334034||Saltire||64134 74334 65134||2001|
|334035||Saltire||64135 74335 65135||2001|
|334036||Saltire||64136 74336 65136||2001|
|334037||Saltire||64137 74337 65137||2001|
|334038||Saltire||64138 74338 65138||2002|
|334039||Saltire||64139 74339 65139||2002|
|334040||Saltire||64140 74340 65140|