SOUTHEND’S new pier trains are almost ready to launch after a grand unveiling was delayed due to the need for more tests and a VIP guest cancelling.

The new electric pier trains have been undergoing vigorous testing since the autumn, with council bosses insisting that more tests are needed but the trains will be in full use as soon as possible.

Tony Cox, leader of Southend Tories, revealed a launch had been planned with an unnamed VIP guest during “city week”.

He said: “We had a VIP guest coming down but it had to be cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances.

“They were going to open the trains for city week and half term too so we are not just waiting for a new date to be announced.

“It is a bit disappointing but we’ve got to do it right and it’ll be special when we can get there.

“It will still help mark the new city status while being a tribute to Sir David Amess. Everyone is really excited and cannot wait for it.”

In September the trains, including include additional capacity, USB charging points, and have state-of-the-art audio visual equipment. arrived on the seafront Deborah Smith, 65, of Thorpe Bay added: “We are so excited to see them up close and finally try them out.

“I am a bit sad but it’ll be good to see a big launch.”

The heritage green and cream livery on the new trains is a nod to past pier trains which carried passengers along the landmark from 1949 to 1978.

Carole Mulroney, cabinet member for environment, culture, tourism and planning, added: “The new eco-friendly trains form part of major investment into the pier and will be a fantastic new attraction to our wonderful iconic landmark.

“On-site testing of the new train is going well and has undergone hours of testing up and down the tracks.

“The next phase involves adding some weight and load to the train, which will be completed as soon as possible. We want to get the new train up and running as soon as possible, and whilst testing has taken longer than we wanted, this is a unique method of transport, new technology for Southend-on-Sea and must be done right.

“Once the first new train is up and running, we can then decommission the one remaining diesel train and get the second new train up and running too.”