RAIL passengers in the north have had a bumpy ride of it over the last couple of years but things could be about to get a whole lot smoother with the introduction of 101 new trains across the network next month.

But in an era where commuters have regularly faced monstrous delays, the discomfort of pacer trains from the 1980s and extreme overcrowding, we ask - are a few new trains really going to revolutionise rail travel in the north?

Standing tall at Preston station on Wednesday morning was ‘Proud to be Northern,’ one of Northern Rail’s nine new units that will be rolling on to tracks come July 1.

The train was about to depart for Manchester, with invited guests and media onboard for an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at what the new Spanish-made trains have to offer.

The new vehicle represents what the company have invested £500million on as part of a three-and-a-half year project and bosses are hopeful the new stock will spell out success for both the company and passengers, putting the last 12 months of misery behind them.

The company’s regional director, Chris Jackson, said the new fleet was going to ‘transform the way people travel’ in the north. He said: “Customers have been used to a number of different trains, many of which are the pacers which we know are loathed. But it is clear to see the difference that these trains will have from being here today - it is a step change.

“This train has space, tables with each seat, wifi, air-conditioning, passenger displays - it is a world away from what people have been used to in terms of pacer travel.

“It has been a difficult twelve months and we have apologised for the impact the issues have had on customers. But I’m pleased to say that our performance is back on track and we re improving day by day. We’ve delivered a very successful timetable change this year which was very different from last year.

“The industry has learnt a lot of lessons and we are pleased to say that we have improved.But there will always be more to do and we hope that these new trains will help with that.”

The first nine of the 101 new trains will start carrying passengers from Monday, with the services scheduled to run between Leeds and Doncaster and Barrow-in-Furness, Windermere and Liverpool to Manchester Airport.

When asked when those living in East Lancashire may expect too see the trains in stations such as Burnley, Blackburn and Colne, the response from Mr Jackson was ‘eventually’.

He added that the new vehicles will be phased on to lines across the north throughout the year, with one pacer being ‘retired’ for every new train hitting the tracks.

He said: “They key message is as the new trains come in the old ones will retire. From August the first pacer train will be leaving the business.”

David Sidebottom, Director for the independent watchdog Transport Focus, said these new trains were the ‘first step’ in getting people back into rail travel.

He said: “People’s trust has really been hit over the last two years, particularly in places like Lancashire and greater Manchester, where delays to engineering works have added to frustrations.

“The poor performance we have experienced along with industrial action and timetable troubles, these are all things that erode away at the trust.

“Commuters pay a lot of money to get to and from work and if you can’t rely on a service it impacts your life. This results in trust issues which I suspect that has hit the railways. These new trains are the start of getting people back in to rail travel.

“I am sure passengers will welcome the first of these new high-quality trains as part of the much needed transformation of rail services across the north.”

The train previewed by the media on Wednesday was operated by diesel though several of the new machines will be powered by electric.

The unit was officially named ‘Proud to be Northern’ at the event, with Northern Rail saying the name was chosen in recognition of the change in quality that it represents for customers and the company’s 6,100 employees.

Rail minister Andrew Jones, said: “We have already seen the introduction of refurbished trains as part of Northern’s investment.

“The unveiling today of brand new trains shows that transformation continues on the north’s rail network.

“This is a true milestone, providing passengers with more spacious, reliable and comfortable journeys.

“I am delighted that we will see the first services running in July. Together with new fleets on Northern, TransPennine Express and the Azumas on the East Coast, we are one step closer to saying goodbye to outdated trains and the start of a more modern rail network fit for people across the north.”

The new trains have been funded by parent company Eversholt Rail Group and were built in Spain and Wales by train manufacturer CAF.

The new trains are part of the north’s largest modernisation programme, with 243 of the fleet’s trains currently under refurbishment and improvements takings place at stations across the country.

The operator continues to promise that it will oversee the complete removal of pacer trains by the end of 2019 with further improvements including a 40% increase in capacity and improved ticketing service.

Northern Rail currently provides around 2,800 local and regional train services every day across the north of England.