Press release

Government gives green light for more state-of-the-art intercity trains

£1.2 billion deal to transform rail travel on East Coast Main Line.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
IEP train

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has today (18 July 2013) confirmed a £1.2 billion order for more state-of-the-art trains to transform rail travel on one of Britain’s busiest intercity routes.

The 270 carriages will be manufactured in Britain by Hitachi Rail Europe at its new purpose-built factory in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, as part of the government’s overall £5.8 billion Intercity Express Programme (IEP).

The latest order for the trains, called the class 800 series, will be operational on the East Coast Main Line from 2019 and will deliver significant benefits to passengers, including boosting capacity by 18 per cent, improving train reliability by a factor of five and cutting journey times between London, Leeds, Newcastle and Edinburgh by up to 18 minutes.

The order is a boost for Hitachi’s North East manufacturing facility and its 730 planned jobs. It will further enhance the factory’s ability to win lucrative rail contracts across Europe and give the UK another runner in the global race to build the world’s best trains.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said:

By signing this deal we have provided further proof of our determination to transform Britain’s railways into a world-class operation through continued investment and state-of-the-art technology.

This new order for class 800 series trains is part of the government’s commitment to invest in our nation’s infrastructure. This will not only deliver significant benefits to passengers by further slashing journey times and bolstering capacity, but will also stimulate economic growth through improved connectivity between some of Britain’s biggest cities. This is good news for rail passengers and for British manufacturing.

Hitachi has recently completed a deal to build its Newton Aycliffe factory with a local development firm Merchant Place Developments and has said that it will be operational from 2015 with full production starting in 2016.

Alistair Dormer, Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Hitachi Rail Europe, said:

This follow-on order by the Department for Transport is great news for passengers on the East Coast Main Line who can look forward to quicker journeys travelling on high-quality trains, with more seats and passenger space, built to the latest safety standards. This order is a tremendous boost for Hitachi Rail Europe’s new factory with its 730 future employees in County Durham and for the British supply chain. This order extends firm orders at the factory until the end of the decade with significant capacity remaining available for further UK and export contracts actively being pursued.

Last year the Department for Transport agreed an initial order for 596 carriages with Agility Trains, a consortium of Hitachi and John Laing. As well as building the new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility, Hitachi is also planning to construct maintenance depots in Bristol, Swansea, west London and Doncaster, and will upgrade existing maintenance depots throughout Britain to service the class 800 series trains.

The first batch of class 800 series trains will enter revenue-earning service on the Great Western Main Line in 2017 and on the East Coast Main Line in 2018.


CGI footage of the Hitachi Class 800 series train for the East Coast Main Line

CGI footage of the Hitachi Class 800 series train for the East Coast Main Line

Images of the new trains can be found at

To follow the announcement follow the Department’s Twitter account at

Intercity Express Programme written ministerial statement by the the Secretary of State for Transport.

The Intercity Express Programme (IEP) was launched in 2005. The key driver for the programme is the need to replace ageing intercity trains which were introduced in the late 1970s to early 90s and would require significant investment to continue in operation.

The programme will deliver a comprehensive package of improvements to intercity train services on the East Coast and Great Western routes. New faster, more reliable, and higher capacity class 800 series trains will facilitate improved frequencies and journey times, relieve crowding and improve the passenger experience. There will be electric-only (class 801) and bi-mode (class 800) variants of the class 800 series, enabling them to operate on both electrified and non-electrified routes.

This new order has a total contract value of around £1.2 billion covering the design, build, finance and maintenance over a 27.5 year period. This is part of the wider £5.8 billion programme for the class 800 series fleets that will run on the Great Western and East Coast Main Lines.

The new trains will be capable of running at 140 miles per hour, which would lead to further journey time reductions, although operation at this speed will require signalling and infrastructure upgrades.

The government announced in July last year that it had agreed a contract with Agility Trains to supply and maintain 596 carriages as part of its Intercity Express Programme. The Secretary of State has now exercised a phase 2 option for an additional 270 carriages, bringing the total to 866.

The full train fleet will comprise 122 complete train sets, some five-vehicles long and others nine-vehicles long. A class 800 series train has a higher seating capacity than existing units in its class. A 9-car train will have wider aisles and 131 more seats than the equivalent Intercity 125 High Speed Train (HST) and 188 more seats than a comparable off-the-shelf new 9-car train, with no compromise on leg-room. For an equivalent 200 metre train, the class 800 series train provides over 30% more seated capacity than an existing diesel Intercity 125 (HST). By 2030, following the deployment of the rolling stock on the East Coast and Great Western routes, there will be a 40% increase in morning peak seats on main line services into Paddington and a 28% increase into King’s Cross when compared with the May 2011 timetable.

The new trains will contribute to a reduction in emissions and CO₂ when compared to alternatives. The class 801 trains (electric) consume 17% less energy per passenger kilometre than an existing diesel Intercity 125 HST and 12% less than an existing electric Intercity 225 train. A class 801 train (electric) will emit over 40% less CO₂ per passenger km than an HST, and almost 10% less than an IC225. On a typical journey between London and Edinburgh, a class 801 train (electric) would emit 84% less CO₂ per passenger km than a domestic flight.

The modern vehicles will offer a step-change in passenger comfort through increased leg space compared with the stock they are replacing with no compromise on luggage space and electronic seat reservations. A performance regime will encourage the trains to run reliably throughout the life of the fleet, with reliability predicted to be around 55,000 per 3-minute delay, which is over five times the rate of performance of current intercity trains.

The contractual responsibility for delivering and maintaining the trains and depots will pass to Agility, as train service provider, leaving the operator to concentrate on running services, building demand and revenues and improving customer satisfaction. Hitachi will manufacture and maintain the trains.

Deployment of the class 800 series trains on the Great Western and East Coast routes is expected to generate £3.3 billion (net present value) in additional revenue through delivering improved journey time, services and quality of travel.

The deployment of class 800 series trains will grow and protect the key East Coast intercity rail markets in readiness for HS2 deployment from 2033.

The following figures are predicted average reductions in journey times for class 800 series trains. They are delivered by a combination of revised timetabling and increased performance of the train.

East Coast

Figures in the following table will be subject to revision once detailed timetables have been drawn up:

  Typical journey time today from / to London Kings Cross Journey time on class 800 series from / to London Kings Cross Time saving
Peterborough 45 43 2
Doncaster 96 92 4
Leeds 132 126 6
York 113 104 9
Newcastle 172 155 17
Edinburgh 263 245 18

Great Western

Figures in the following table will be subject to revision once detailed timetables have been drawn up:

  Typical journey time today from / to London Paddington Journey time on class 800 series from / to London Paddington Time saving
Reading 25 23 2
Oxford 58 53 5
Worcester Shrub Hill 139 120 19
Cheltenham Spa 135 112 23
Bristol Parkway 81 71 10
Bath Spa 87 79 8
Bristol Temple Meads 105 83 22
Cardiff 121 104 17
Swansea 178 159 19

Rail media enquiries

Media enquiries 0300 7777878

Switchboard 0300 330 3000

Updates to this page

Published 18 July 2013