[IT] Hitachi Rail and GWR: Roll-out of the first Italy-built AT300s

Two new Intercity Express Trains (AT300) manufactured in Italy for GWR’s Devon and Cornwall route (via Reading and Wiltshire) are to begin a rare journey across Europe. During the next weeks, the trains will leave Hitachi’s factory in Pistoia, Italy, before travelling by rail through Austria, Germany, and France, arriving days later in the UK via the Channel Tunnel – at Hitachi’s depot in West London.

Unit 802003 and 802004, the first of their type with fully finished interiors, will join three prototype trains already being tested in the South West of England – The 5-car units 802001 and 802002 and the 9-car 802101. These have been tested in the south-west of the UK since Summer 2017. This test programme is managed from Hitachi’s newly built depot in Bristol.

Intercity Express Trains transforming GWR routes

Last year, the first wave of Intercity Express Trains began running on the historic Great Western main line, connecting London to key UK cities including Reading, Swindon, Bath, Bristol and Cardiff. Production of these trains is continuing in the UK at Newton Aycliffe, County Durham.

From summer 2018 a second wave of 36 modern Intercity Express Trains will begin running from London Paddington, via Reading, Wiltshire, Somerset, along coastal routes in Devon and Cornwall and as far south as Penzance. For the manufacturing of these trains, in addition to the production plant in the UK (which is at full capacity), Hitachi Rail is also using its facility in Pistoia, Italy, making use of a greater production capacity.

The Intercity Express Train harnesses Hitachi Rail’s pioneering Japanese bullet train technology, known for its quality and reliability. It has also been designed to withstand the region’s variable weather conditions, including routes along the Dawlish coast.

Passengers can expect more seats, better on-board facilities and shorter journey times, saving as much as 14 minutes between London Paddington and Penzance. Passengers will also benefit from new on-board technology, including real-time journey updates and seat reservation screens. The entire fleet is fitted with hybrid technology, allowing trains to use both diesel and electric power, meaning passengers can enjoy the benefits of new trains as soon as possible.

Photo: Hitachi Rail

Parts supplied from businesses in South West of England

The new trains are seen as a boost for regional economies along the route, providing greater connectivity for businesses and tourist destinations. GWR’s order of the new fleet has also had a direct impact on firms in the region. Businesses located along the Great Western route were chosen by Hitachi to supply parts for the new Intercity Express trains:

  • Floors from Cornwall (Tiflex)
  • Pantographs from Somerset (Brecknell Willis)
  • Braking systems from Wiltshire (Knorr-Bremse)

Mark Hopwood, Managing Director at Great Western Railways, said: “We know how important the railway is to the economies and communities of the South West, and today marks another significant milestone in delivering the improvements we know our passengers wish to see” and ”These trains have been privately financed and will help us deliver faster, more frequent services into the South West with no cost to the taxpayer.”

Berry Sas, Projects Director at Hitachi Rail Europe, said: “We are proud to see our factories producing high quality trains for the South West using many parts sourced from the UK. A strong British supply chain is used in both our UK and Italian factories, and we are delighted to award big contracts to suppliers based along the GWR route” and “The test programme is moving apace ahead of summer entry into service, when passengers will enjoy the benefits of modern intercity trains”

Mary Kenny, Chief Executive Officer at Eversholt Rail, who are financing the deal said: “Eversholt Rail has invested £497m in these new Class 802 trains, built by Hitachi Rail for operation on Great Western Railway, to modernize the rail connection and passenger experience from Devon and Cornwall to London. The despatch of the first completed trains from Hitachi Rail’s Pistoia’s works marks a significant milestone in the project for all parties and stakeholders”.

Maurizio Manfellotto, Chief Executive Officer at Hitachi Rail Italy, said: “Manufacturing GWR’s trains in our plant in Pistoia is key to us. These trains, intended for UK, that leave the Italian factory are the emblem of the integration of the Hitachi Group Rail companies. A synergy of skills, experience and innovation in the UK, Japan and Italy, that allows us today to deliver to the customer a state-of-the-art product in terms of technology and comfort to the passenger. “

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