Editors note: I’ve been out and about today, so I’ll be catching up with the news about a lot of England reopening from the 4th July much later on today. For now, lets talk trains…
Upcoming open access operator East Coat Trains (not to be confused with the previous government-operated company East Coast) takes another step forward, with the first train being assembled by Hitachi Rail, in Newton Aycliffe.
The order will comprise of five trainsets – designated the Class 803. These will be comprised of five cars and will seat passengers in a single-class layout. It is derived from the Hitachi A-Train AT300 family.
East Coast Trains will operate them as between London and Edinburgh, as competition to the franchised operator on the East Coast route, as well as taking on the airlines on this domestic trunk route.
According to Hitachi, the construction of the new intercity trains for the open-access operator incorporates a more extensive manufacturing programme than previous fleets.
The increased scope will see the highly skilled workforce create a new state-of-art fleet from empty aluminium shells.
COVID-19 has played an impact, however, Hitachi has begun assembling the train sets with appropriate precautions.
The new trains should start operation between Edinburgh and London from autumn 2021.
Unlike other Class 800 family trains, this will have no diesel engine or generator onboard – making it an all-electric train. Others in the family either operate as bi-mode trains (with diesel and electric power in the case of Class 800 and 802) or with a small diesel engine onboard to help the train in an emergency (which is being used on the Class 801 trains).
Ross Nagle, COO Rolling Stock UK at Hitachi Rail said:
“Building these East Coast Trains signifies a new and exciting chapter for Hitachi Rail’s UK factory.
“It is an important step as we increase our manufacturing capabilities and upskill our workforce at Newton Aycliffe, which includes a £8.5m investment in new welding and painting facilities.
“The increased skills of our workforce makes us well placed to deliver a number of highly significant orders over the next 12 months, and consolidate our place as a strategic North East manufacturing hub.”
Helen Wylde, Managing Director at East Coast Trains said:
“Its great to see our new 100% electric trains being assembled by the skilled team at Newton Aycliffe.
“We are delighted that these trains will be at the cutting-edge of low-emission rail transport, underlining the benefits of using our rail service for travel between the two capital cities.”
Ross Shepherd, Chief Technical Officer, Beacon Rail Leasing Limited said
“We are delighted to see the start of the manufacture of our all-electric Class 803 fleet in the UK. It is a sign of the strong teamwork and commitment to safety across the project that this has been achieved in these extraordinary times.
The Class 803 demonstrates Beacon’s commitment to delivering environmentally friendly rail travel across Europe”.
A single class, lower cost option?
Connectivity up and down the East Coast is tight – with LNER, Great Northern, Hull Trains, Grand Central, TransPennine Express, Northern and Scotrail scrambling for paths on this route.
These new trains plan to inject new high-speed capacity between London and Edinburgh.
Whilst these trains plan to have on-board catering, air-conditioning, power sockets and WiFi on board with a planned “average” fare of £25 one-way, it could be a compelling option for passengers looking to save cash and travel between the English and Scottish capitals.
Although compared to the length of trains used on this route, five cars feel a little short…
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