FDI July / Aug 2020

Hitachi signals new rail era in Durham

London–Edinburgh east coast trains to roll in autumn 2021

The manufacture of five 100% electric trains for East Coast Trains began on 15 June, signalling the start of a new phase of train building and a jobs boost at Hitachi Rail’s Newton Aycliffe factory in County Durham.

The construction of the new intercity trains for East Coast Trains Limited incorporates a more extensive manufacturing programme than that used for previous fleets. The increased scope will see the highly skilled workforce create a new state-of-the-art fleet from empty aluminium shells.

Despite the impact of Covid-19, Hitachi Rail has continued to work diligently and safely to prepare the factory, and is now ready to start filling the East Coast Trains order.

The five trains—known as Class 803s—will begin carrying passengers between Edinburgh and London in autumn 2021, offering passengers a high-quality, cost-effective and more sustainable alternative to flying between two of the UK’s capital cities.

Ross Nagle, COO Rolling Stock UK at Hitachi Rail, commented that, “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. This includes investing £8.5mn in new welding and painting facilities.

“The increased skills of our workforce make 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”.

East Coast Trains will have the first service of the day from London to Edinburgh, making it an attractive alternative to flying. The trains will travel entirely in electric mode, resulting in zero-emission intercity travel.

The rolling stock is part of the award-winning Class 800 series, which currently make up some of the UK’s most reliable new fleets and are improving passenger satisfaction.

This year, Hitachi Rail is due to fill more intercity train orders, which will benefit from their £8.5mn investment in welding and painting at the factory.

The firm is a fully integrated, global provider of rail solutions across rolling stock, signalling, service and maintenance, digital technology and turnkey solutions. It boasts a presence in 38 countries across three continents and more than 12,000 employees.

Helen Wylde, managing director at East Coast Trains said: “It’s 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, added: “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 environment-friendly rail travel across Europe”.

Beacon is a rolling stock leasing company head­quartered in Luxembourg and focused on serving European and UK markets. Beacon’s current portfolio includes 346 locomotives, 1,000 freight wagons and 575 passenger vehicles on lease across Europe.