In what the operator is calling a major milestone, the first of Avanti West Coast’s new fleet of trains has entered static testing at Hitachi Rail’s Newton Aycliffe factory.
This is a moment that has been two-and-a-half years in the making, with the operator’s owner, First Trenitalia, awarding the £350 million project to Hitachi in early December 2019.
The new fleet will be a mix of ten seven-carriage electric trains and 13 five-carriage bi-mode trains, with the ability to switch seamlessly between electric and diesel power. The electric trains (Class 807) will operate between London, the West Midlands and Liverpool while the bi-mode version will be focused on the London to North Wales route.
Designed to bring extra capacity, these are fast-accelerating 125mph trains which draw from a Japanese bullet train heritage. As a result of their design, passengers will have a quieter journey compared to the diesel-only trains they will replace. The new trains will also have better and more reliable free Wi-Fi, at-seat wireless inductive charging for electronic devices, plug sockets and USB slots, a brand-new catering offer and a real-time passenger information system that can advise customers of connecting rail services.
An extensive testing programme
This new landmark moment will see carriages from a Class 805 bi-mode train being coupled at the start of an extensive testing programme. Engineers will put all basic functionality of the train through its paces, from brakes to engines and doors to toilets.
After this, dynamic testing will go ahead later in the year, when the train will move under its own power for the first time.
The plan is for the trains to enter into service in 2023.
Managing director at Avanti West Coast, Phil Whittingham, said: “It’s great to see the new trains taking shape. The investment is a key part of our exciting plans to raise the bar for the UK rail industry, and our wider commitment to improve the customer experience and a more sustainable operation.”
Head of UK & Ireland at Hitachi Rail, Jim Brewin, said: “Our teams across the UK are working tenaciously to deliver more Hitachi intercity trains, which are proven to boost reliability and performance.
We look forward to Avanti passengers experiencing the transformation that follows the introduction of this brand new fleet.”