Published: 13th March 2015
Rail Minister Claire Perry MP welcomed the arrival of the first Hitachi pre-series Class 800 train for Intercity Express Programme at Southampton Docks on March 12. The Minister was joined by the Japanese Ambassador to the UK Government Keiichi Hayashi, Andy Barr, Chief Operating Officer, Hitachi Rail Europe and Christopher Connor, Chief Executive Officer, Wallenius Wilhelmsen.
The first train to be unloaded was No. 800-001 which is the first five-car ‘pre-series’ train to be shipped to the UK from Japan in the £5.7billion Department for Transport scheme to supply the East Coast and Great West main line franchises with new trains for the next 27 years. The Hitachi Rail Vehicle Manufacturing Facility in Newton Aycliffe near Darlington will manufacture 110 trains starting later this year.
The trains were carried on-board the Wallenius Wilhelmsen Tamerlane, a roll-on, roll-off vessel with the carriages towed on to the Quayside by heavy duty tractors. They departed from the Hitachi Works in Japan on January 7 and travelled by barge to the port of Kobe where the Tamerlane departed on January 23 via the Panama Canal to Southampton arriving on March 11.
Hitachi Rail Europe views the first train as a ‘technology transfer vehicle,’ with staff from the Newton Aycliffe factory having spent around 3,000 man-hours working alongside the staff building the train at the Kasado Works. The project now enters a new phase as these staff bring their new found knowledge and skills to the North East to train other staff in train-building skills.
The train was taken by road to the northeast and will soon be seen operating under test conditions and be used to train onboard staff from April. The tests will be carried out on the Old Dalby test track near Melton Mowbray where the Pendolinos were tested. Once tests are showing good results, the Hitachi trains will undergo more tests in a ‘wheels free zone’ on the East Coast Main Line.
Rail Minister Claire Perry said: “It is hugely exciting to witness the arrival of the first state-of-the-art IEP train on British soil. These trains will transform rail travel for passengers travelling between many of the great towns and cities of England, Scotland and Wales; provide a massive jobs boost for Britain and deliver billions of pounds of benefits for our economy.
“The IEP is also helping to create hundreds of jobs and apprenticeships at Hitachi’s new factory in County Durham, as well as thousands more jobs across the UK supply chain. I cannot wait to see the trains being manufactured in Britain and passengers using them.”
Andy Barr, Chief Operating Officer, Hitachi Rail Europe, said: “The arrival of the first train here in the UK is a major achievement for everybody involved in building this train – our colleagues in Japan, our UK suppliers and also the team from Newton Aycliffe, who worked on this train in Japan to hone their train-building skills.
Today marks a new departure in the Intercity Express Programme for Hitachi Rail Europe, as we enter the test phase and build up to the opening of our Rail Vehicle Manufacturing Facility in the autumn of this year.” The punctual arrival of this pre-series train marks the completion of yet another successful milestone in the project.
The Intercity Express Programme was designed to replace the 40 year old Intercity 125 and 25 year old Intercity 225 fleets on the East Coast and Great Western Main Lines. But the operators are looking at retaining these trains to enable more services to be operated to cope with the ever growing demand for rail travel.
The 122 trains have 866 carriages and an initial contractual life of 27.5 years during which they will be maintained in new sheds along the routes they will operate on. The first train to appear was a bi-mode train to be used on The Great Western and will be introduced into passenger service in 2017. The East Coast Main Line fleet enters service a year later and the whole fleet will be operational by 2020.
Hitachi is still building a Rail Vehicle Manufacturing Facility in Newton Aycliffe costing around £82 million and this will be completed in the next few months and next year, the construction of 112 Class 800/801 series trains is scheduled to commence. Around 750 staff will be employed there including research and development facilities staff.