The transformation of rail travel between Britain’s towns and cities has taken a major step forward after the first of a new generation of high-tech passenger trains arrived in the country.
The Class 800 train, specially designed and built by Hitachi for the government’s £5.7 billion InterCity Express Programme (IEP), will deliver thousands of jobs across Britain and provide billions of pounds of benefits to the economy.
The trains will revolutionise journeys in the south west and north, with more seats on each train, more services, reduced journey times and improved reliability. The first train will now undergo testing to get the fleet ready for service on Great Western from 2017 and East Coast from 2018. All 122 trains will be in service by 2020.
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.
We are investing record amounts building a world-class railway that provides more seats, more services and better journeys. IEP trains are a crucial part of this and it is fantastic that we are on track for the new fleet to enter service on schedule.
The IEP is also helping to secure long-term economic growth by creating 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.
A total of 110 IEP trains will be manufactured at the Newton Aycliffe site, creating 730 jobs locally. Staff from the factory spent around 3,000 hours working alongside employees in Kasado building the first train and will pass on their expertise to the UK workforce.
The new IEP trains will bring faster services and additional capacity between London and major UK cities including Reading, Bristol, Cardiff and Swansea along the Great Western Main Line, and Leeds, Newcastle and Edinburgh on the East Coast Main Line. IEP will increase the number of seats in the morning peak into London Paddington by 40% and 28% in to Kings Cross.
Travelling at a top speed of 125 mph, IEP will deliver reductions in average journey times of up to 15 minutes, increasing connectivity and boosting the economy. The new trains are capable of running at 140 mph and the government recently confirmed a study would be carried out on providing the infrastructure needed for IEP trains on East Coast to run at this speed – providing faster links with a potential HS3 scheme and therefore dramatically improving both north-south and east-west connectivity.
As well as building the new manufacturing facility at Newton Aycliffe, Hitachi Rail Europe is constructing maintenance depots at sites including Bristol and Doncaster, and refurbishing and upgrading depots across the Great Western and East Coast Main Lines.
The contract to deliver the carriages has been agreed with Agility Trains, a consortium of Hitachi Rail Europe and John Laing. The total value of the contract will be £5.7 billion over 27.5 years. This includes the manufacture and delivery of the trains, new maintenance depots and infrastructure upgrades. The contract is also for the ongoing maintenance and servicing of the fleet.