Hitachi wins £350million order for new West Coast trains

An artist’s impression of the AT300 trains in Avanti West Coast livery. 

Hitachi’s Newton Aycliffe factory will deliver a new fleet of 23 trains for Avanti West Coast in 2022. 

The completion of Intercity Express Programme (IEP) and ScotRail Class 385 EMU orders are on the horizon, and the £350million deal is a further boost for the County Durham facility after securing the contract to supply bi-mode trains to East Midlands Railway in August. 

Avanti has ordered 13 five-car bi-mode and 10 seven-car electric trains (135 vehicles) similar in design and specification to the Class 800 and 801s currently being delivered to LNER for East Coast Main Line services.

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They will replace 20 Class 221 ‘Super Voyagers’ (Nos. 221101-118/142/143), allowing AWC to eliminate long-distance diesel working on electrified routes and expand services to more destinations off the 25kV AC network. 

Bi-mode sets will be used on the Chester, Holyhead, Shrewsbury, Llandudno and Wrexham/Gobowen routes, while the electric sets are destined for the Blackpool route and AWC’s planned Euston-West Midlands-Liverpool service. 

Both types will be maintained by a joint Hitachi/Alstom team at Oxley depot in Wolverhampton. 

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The bi-mode trains have an ability to operate for much of their journey in electric mode, and will reduce AWC’s carbon dioxide emissions by around 60% by 2022, as well as significantly reducing nitrogen oxide and particulate emissions because of more modern and cleaner diesel power packs. 

With 453 seats, the seven-car trains will have a capacity similar to a nine-car Class 390 because of longer, 26-metre vehicles. Each five-car set will have 301 seats, compared to the 258 of a Class 221. 

Better, more reliable wi-fi, at-seat wireless charging for mobile devices, plug sockets and USB charging points, a real time passenger information system, and improved catering are also promised. 

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The trains are being financed by Rock Rail West Coast, a joint venture between Rock Rail and Aberdeen Standard Investments.

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Read more News and Features in the January 2020 issue of The Railway Magazine –on sale now!

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Sam Hewitt