Published: 8th January 2015
Hitachi has released images of the first completed pre-series Class 800 train beginning its long journey to the UK from Japan. This class of train was procured somewhat controversially by the Department for Transport (DfT) for their Intercity Express Programme (IEP) in an attempt to generate competition in the UK rolling stock market. The train was shipped from the Kasado Works in Kudamatsu City, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan.
It is a complicated train building contract based on a Public Private Partnership (PPP) scheme led by the DfT with financial support provided by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, Nippon Export and Investment Insurance (NEXI) plus a few other organisations.
The train will arrive in March when it will be fitted out with testing instrumentation ready for going through the safety approval process. This will involve test running and staff training from April.
The tests will be undertaken by Hitachi Rail Europe to enable acceptance by Agility Trains, the special-purpose company that will ultimately own the trains and then lease them to the rail franchisees on the Great Western and East Coast Main Lines.
The first train was shipped by barge from the Hitachi Works and will go to Kobe Port for January 22 and will then be loaded onto an ocean going cargo ship for onwards transport to the UK.
The train will go to the £82 million Hitachi Rail Vehicle Manufacturing Facility at Newton Aycliffe near Shildon. This plant will be completed this summer and production of Class 800 series trains is scheduled to begin in 2016.
This new factory will employ around 750 people with a third of these already hired and the Hitachi Europe research and development facilitie will also be housed there.
Alistair Dormer, Global CEO of Hitachi Rail, said: “After unveiling this train in November last year, I am immensely proud that we today see the first shipment leave our factory in Kasado. Our engineering teams in the UK and Japan have been working exceptionally hard with all stakeholders to ensure that this train will be ready for testing in the UK from April this year onward.”
Hitachi build the high-speed trains such as the Shinkansen (bullet train) for the Japanese and international markets and in the UK, supplied the Ashford based Class 395 140mph commuter trains running from Kent to St. Pancras.
The new trains will be maintained and serviced in a number of new maintenance depots along the Great Western Main Line and the East Coast Main Line. Delivery will not be complete for another four or five years and will bring electric trains to the Great western Main Line once that project is completed.
The UK brought railways to the world and exported tens of thousands of locomotives from various railway works over a century from the 1850s. But curiously some works were not rail connected and as railways were constructed to different gauges in different countries, delivering locomotives was often an interesting logistical problem.
Locomotives were carried by lorry through narrow streets to the nearest railway causing local disruption. In the very early days, sometimes, they were pulled by people or animals on crudely built carts!
The one certainty was given the UK is an island, that ships had to be involved in the delivery logistics. Many ports were used and as locomotive sizes increased, the size of cranes also increased.
The accompanying images show a Glasgow built locomotive in 1897 being loaded at Newhaven bound for France but note the workforce posing without wearing any safety equipment! And in India a narrow gauge engine was being transported on a standard gauge wagon in India to its final destination!
But in essence, the method of slinging was the same used by Hitachi but the modern way is a lot more reliable and safer! And today, many new trains arrive via the Channel Tunnel being built in Europe.
Hitachi’s long term aim is that with their European HQ in the UK, they will be able to export their trains to European Union countries via the Channel Tunnel once they have construction capacity.