Work begins on new futuristic train fleet for TransPennine Express

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  • Production of new intercity trains connecting northern England and Scotland has started with exclusive images released
  • 19 new five carriage trains harnessing Japanese bullet train technology to enter service in 2019
  • This is the third fleet being built for TransPennine Express. Together, these will provide 13million more seats per year
  • Customers to benefit from more seats, faster journey times and improved comfort with more legroom

TransPennine Express customers are a step closer to experiencing brand new, high quality trains as Hitachi begins work an intercity fleet to start service in 2019.

Production work has begun on two test trains in Japan which will arrive in the UK next year*.

The modern Japanese bullet train inspired fleet is being built by Hitachi and financed by Angel Trains.

The trains will be maintained at Hitachi’s newly built £80million depot in Doncaster, home to 250 employees and four apprentices. Long-term jobs will also be secured at existing depots in Liverpool, Newcastle and Edinburgh, which all play a role in maintaining the trains.

Investment in the trains and new depot come alongside the Great North Rail Project, which will upgrade key parts of the route to enable better services.

Modern trains for iconic Pennines route

From 2019 this fleet will connect major cities in the North of England and Scotland and will run from Manchester and Liverpool, across the iconic Pennines to cities such as Leeds, York, Newcastle and Edinburgh.

The trains will provide 161 additional seats compared to the existing trains on the popular intercity route. Customers will benefit from spacious carriages, providing extra legroom and additional luggage space.

Each new train will offer fast, free Wi-Fi in both Standard and First Class as well as complimentary on-board entertainment system, Exstream, allowing customers to stream the latest movies and TV shows during their journey.

Lighter and greener hybrid trains

Hitachi is using its famous Japanese-bullet train technology to make the new fleet light and aerodynamic. The 19 trains will all be hybrid, meaning they can switch seamlessly mid-journey between electric and diesel power. The trains, able to run in either five or ten carriage formation, are capable of speeds of up to 140mph in electric mode and 125 mph using diesel engines.

By using modern MTU engines from Rolls-Royce, the trains will cut harmful emissions under diesel power by up to 90%.

David Hoggarth, Director for Rail North, said:

“These trains are game-changers. Fast efficient travel on trains fit for purpose will open up rail to new users in the business and leisure sector and is one of the key components required for growing the Northern economy through enhanced connectivity, This is great news for the North and demonstrates that visionary franchise agreements can really deliver.”

Berry Sas, Projects Director for Hitachi Rail Europe said:

“Millions of journeys along the popular transpennine route will be transformed once these pioneering intercity trains are introduced into service.

“We have invested £80million in a state-of-the-art depot in Doncaster to ensure these new trains are running in top condition for each and every journey.”

TransPennine Express Managing Director Leo Goodwin said: “The construction of our third, brand new fleet of trains is tremendously exciting news for customers.

“Once in service in 2019, these will be some of the most advanced trains in the UK and coupled with the other new trains we are having built, will provide an additional 13million seats a year.

“We are committed to supporting the northern economy and are pleased that the fleet, which will be maintained at locations across the north and in Scotland will be supporting 250 long-term jobs”

Malcolm Brown, Chief Executive Officer for Angel Trains said:

“We are delighted that work has begun on these modern, efficient and fast trains, moving Angel Trains a step closer to the delivery of this fleet. Once delivered in 2019, hundreds of thousands of TransPennine Express passengers throughout the franchise period will enjoy a transformed northern inter-city travel experience. This will include a reliable, WIFI-enabled service, delivering travellers quickly and seamlessly to their destination, regardless of whether the route is electrified or unelectrified.

By procuring, financing and leasing these new bi-mode trains, Angel Trains has demonstrated its commitment to both northern investment and providing value to customers, bringing improved travel and more jobs to the region.

We have already invested over £5.0 billion in the UK rail industry and, working with our partners in the industry, we look forward to continuing to make further significant investments in rolling stock in future.”

*Notes on testing and manufacturing

The new fleet of Hitachi intercity trains (Class 802) were ordered by FirstGroup for TransPennine Express in 2016.

The trains will be built across Hitachi’s global manufacturing sites.

The first two trains to be built in Japan are test trains (802201 & 802202). Testing in the UK will begin in summer 2018 ahead of the trains entering passenger service in December 2019.

Hitachi Rail Europe: Virgin Azuma train debuts in Highlands

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Hitachi built Azuma train travelling past Gleneagles, Scotland

-Iconic train passes through one of most scenic routes on UK rail network
-Azuma set to transform cross-border services for five of Scotland’s cities
-£18m investment in Scottish depots by train manufacturer Hitachi

Virgin’s state-of-the-art Azuma train made its inaugural visit to the Highlands this weekend as preparations to transform cross-border rail services gather pace.

The iconic train, which takes its name from the Japanese word for “east”, will be rolled out on Virgin Trains’ east coast from next year, ushering in a new era of comfort and style for rail passengers.

It passed through some of the most iconic scenery on the UK rail network as it journeyed north of Edinburgh to Inverness on Friday afternoon for the first time, before travelling back to a depot in Doncaster in the early hours of Saturday morning.

The test run by manufacturer Hitachi is part of a programme to prepare Scotland for the 65-strong Azuma fleet. The first of these will enter service in December 2018 as part of a two-year rollout programme, with Azuma services due to operate from five of Scotland’s seven cities from 2019.

The Azuma is set to be one of the most advance passenger trains on the UK rail network, able to accelerate faster than existing trains and providing more comfort and space inside.

Hitachi is building the new trains at their factory in the North East of England (Newton Aycliffe, County Durham), home to 1000 train builders including 50 apprentices.

The firm has invested £18 million to modernise depots at Aberdeen, Inverness and Edinburgh to ensure they are able to service the new fleet, securing long-term engineering jobs at all three locations.

Virgin Trains operates half-hourly services between Edinburgh and London for most of the day, with four additional services running to Aberdeen and one train a day, the Highland Chieftain, serving Stirling, Perth and Inverness.

Andy Rogers, Programme Director for Hitachi Rail Europe, said: “Our rigorous test programme is moving apace ahead of the trains entering service next year. Over the next twelve months, passengers and enthusiasts will be seeing plenty more of our British-built Azuma trains testing in Scotland.”

UK Government Rail Minister Paul Maynard said: “We want to put passengers at the heart of everything we do and the £5.7bn government-led investment in a new fleet of state-of-the-art intercity trains is important step in achieving that. This test run is a key milestone in the introduction of the fleet on the East Coast Main Line and it will mean more space, more comfort and more reliability for passengers up and down the country.”

Humza Yousaf, Minister for Transport and the Islands in Scotland, said: “It is very encouraging to see the new Virgin Azuma train visit Inverness, moving it another step closer to service introduction. The new fleet will offer cross-border passengers more capacity and the modern facilities we all now demand. The Scottish Government’s £5bn investment in the rail network is making a real difference across the country and I know developments like this make train travel a more attractive choice across the North and East of Scotland. This, in turn, can help drive the modal shift to rail as a regular option we are all keen to see delivered.”

David Horne, Virgin Trains Managing Director on the east coast route, added: “Azuma will bring a new era of style in long distance rail travel and we’re excited to see preparations gather pace that will help transform services for passengers across Scotland.”