8. Commencement of Passenger Services by IEP Rolling Stock
On Monday 16th October, Hitachi's first Intercity Express Trains entered passenger service in the UK.
Four trains carried passengers for the first time along the Great Western route, connecting London to major cities, including Reading, Bristol, Bath and Cardiff. The inaugural passenger journey took place between Bristol and London, with senior dignitaries such as the Secretary of State for Transport on-board. Despite some initial problems on the first day of running, the four trains successfully completed over 5,000 miles in their first week of service.
Hitachi's Intercity Express Trains will improve travel along an increasingly popular route. The number of passengers, both commuter and tourist, will continue to rise-year-on-year. The new trains are designed to give passengers more space, such as increased legroom and luggage areas, and crucially, 24% more seats. Passengers will also enjoy the benefits of modern trains with faster Wi-Fi*, digital seat reservation screens, and plug sockets at every seat.
Thanks to its innovative bi-mode technology, Hitachi has managed to deliver the benefits of new trains to passengers sooner. The Great Western route is still being electrified, with infrastructure upgrades, such as installation of overhead wires, currently taking place. At the moment, trains can only run on electric power for a short part of the journey. To combat this issue, Hitachi has designed a train that can run on both electric and diesel power. The trains switch seamlessly between electric and diesel mid-journey, without passengers being able to notice. This is a first for UK passengers, and means even whilst the route is being upgraded, new trains can be introduced.
The first passenger service marked a historic day for the UK rail industry. The new fleet will replace trains which are over 40 years old, on a railway line first built in 1838. The pioneering Intercity Express Train is the symbol for a new era in UK rail travel, as the country welcomes a wave of investment in new trains.
The first passenger service was the culmination of nine years of hard work by Hitachi teams across the globe. The trains are part of the UK Government's £5.7bn Intercity Express Programme (IEP), where Hitachi will build and maintain 122 intercity trains. 57 trains will run on the Great Western main line while next year sees the remaining 65 beginning to enter service on the East Coast main line (London to Scotland).
Hitachi first started bidding for IEP back in 2008 and eventually signed the contract in 2012. Since then, Hitachi's rail presence the in UK has expanded dramatically, including new offices, depots and even a manufacturing site.
Hitachi's state-of-the-art £82m train manufacturing facility at Newton Aycliffe is currently building the new Intercity Express Trains. The factory was only constructed in 2015, but has already produced numerous Intercity Express Trains, including those that entered passenger service on the Great Western.
The trains epitomise Hitachi's global approach to delivering projects. The bodyshells are made in Kasado, before being shipped to Newton Aycliffe where the manufacturing process is completed. Teams in Japan and the UK have worked closely since the contract was signed to ensure the delivery of this major landmark project is on time. This includes teams from Kasado training the new UK train manufacturing site, as well as project support from colleagues in Mito and Tokyo.
As part of the contract, Hitachi will be maintaining the new trains for the next 27 ½ years. To do so, Hitachi has invested over £250m building modern depots across the country. For the Great Western, new depots at Bristol, Wales, and West London have already begun maintaining the new trains. Our new teams will service and clean the trains every day, ensuring they are in top condition for passengers. The new depots are clean, light, and packed full of modern technology to carry out this job to the highest standard.
Through these depots, Hitachi is embedding itself in local communities and forging new relationships with stakeholders and passengers along the route.
Hitachi will soon be known in the UK for making journeys better for millions of people, thanks to modern trains and a dedicated maintenance team.
- See the list of “Trademarks.”
8.1. IEP train arriving at a platform
8.2. Train interior (top) and IEP train passing through the outskirts of London (bottom)