Rail Industry Focus


Hitachi highlights innovative IEP interior design

Source: Rail Technology Magazine June/July 2014

Andy Rogers, IEP project manager at Hitachi Rail Europe, discusses the latest interior designs of the Super Express Trains which will run on the Great Western Main Line and East Coast Main Line as part of the Intercity Express Programme (IEP). RTM’s David Stevenson reports from a site visit to see the design mock-ups and also heard from Paul Rutter, senior associate and transport manager at DCA.

Hitachi Rail Europe will build, deliver and maintain 866 Class 800 Super Express Train (SETs) cars for the Great Western Main Line and East Coast Main Line as part of the Intercity Express Programme (IEP).

All work is on schedule and the 122 trains are expected to enter passenger service in 2017 on the GWML and in 2018 on the ECML.

The contract specifications are for the “provision into daily service of the following cleaned, serviced and maintained trains”:

•  21 x nine-car electric trains and 36 x five-car bi-mode trains for GWML into passenger service each weekday (369 vehicles)

•  12 x five-car electric trains, 10 x five-car bi-mode trains, 13 x nine-car bi-mode trains and 30 x nine-car electric trains for ECML into passenger service each weekday (497 vehicles)

With the first pre-series train carriage due to be delivered by spring 2015, RTM was invited to Warwick to view a full-scale mock-up of both the driving cab and the carriage interiors developed by DCA Design.

The mock-ups, which are a design tool rather than an exact replica of a complete train, have been reviewed by about 2,000 people as part of a large number of stakeholder and employee visits.

Inside the SET saloon

Inside the first and standard class saloons the colour scheme is designed to be brand neutral with the colour palette being a steel, grey scale. However, should a franchisee wish to change the colour of the carpet and seat covers, the DfT has offered them the option to do so – but they have to pay for this.

In the saloon, a new type of electronic seat reservation system has been introduced, based on a traffic light system. ‘Green’ seats are available, ‘amber’ means that the seat is reserved for part of the journey, and ‘red’ indicates that the seat is booked for the entire length of the journey.

The FAINSA-designed standard class seats, which are lower than usual (making it easier for people to see if someone is occupying a seat), also have tip-down tables designed to accommodate tablet computers and larger laptops.

Paul Rutter, senior associate and transport manager at DCA, told RTM: “One of the things FAINSA has managed to do is create seats that are made from polyurethane foam so there is greater flexibility.

“Carbon-loaded foams tend to be firmer and degrade. [FAINSA’s] proprietary

fire-barrier fabric combination should hopefully mean a longer life. The seat heights are also visibly lower, which gives people lumbar support but is still safety compliant and has been tested.”

Hitachi Rail Europe’s IEP project manager Andy Rogers added that seats have been sent out to East Coast and Great Western to get feedback and, so far, this has been positive.

The trains also feature a kitchen, lockable bike and luggage storage facilities, with luggage racks in coaches capable of holding airline hold-size luggage.

Driver’s cab

The driver’s cab design is common across Great Western and East Coast, with the train management system on the right-hand side; in front of the driver is the European Train Control System (ETCS) related equipment; and then to the left is the CCTV.

“The train is designed for driver-only operation. So, if you’ve got two coupled five-cars then you get 20 images shown on the screen so you see every door,” said Rogers. “The driving cab is based upon the Class 395 Javelin EMU but incorporates a range of additional features.”

Hitachi Rail Europe will provide two variants of the SETs, namely Class 800 and Class 801. The Class 800 are bi-mode (diesel-electric) trains, whereas the Class 801 are electric trains.

The diesel engine power packs for the bi-mode variant are mounted under the floors of intermediate coaches. This means that these coaches have a higher floor height than the driving cars, which are lower to accommodate the pantograph.

Rogers explained: “The electric model still has an engine under it so it still powers the coupling systems if the wire comes down, but it also enables the train to self-recover.

“The driving cars have got a low floor and low ceiling because you have the pantograph over the driving vehicles. As a result, there is a ramp within the gangway going into the intermediate vehicles, and all the intermediate vehicles have a high floor.

“The bi-mode vehicles will have up to 50% powered engines underneath those vehicles, but if there isn’t an engine it still has the same floor height.”

Rogers added that Hitachi is building the first carriage body in Japan, with the first pre-series train being delivered to the UK in the early part of next year.

“This mock-up is the output of the design process and now the final parts are being put in place,” he stated. 

A DfT spokesperson at the Warwick mock-ups said that all parties concerned were very close to sign-off with many user groups and officials having inspected the designs.

Rail minister Stephen Hammond, who also visited the site, said: “I was very impressed with the mock-up of the Class 800/801 train, and interested to hear about the lengths that the designers have gone to in ensuring that the views of passengers and other stakeholders have been included.

“The new trains will provide passengers with an improved travelling experience. I look forward to seeing them come into operation.”

The delivery of the IEP trains must be integrated with the major infrastructure works also taking place, such as electrification of the GWML and the (eventual) switch to ERTMS signalling. Trains will be tested between Didcot and Reading once early electrification works are complete there.


Apart from Hitachi itself, DCA and FAINSA, many other companies have been contracted to provide systems for the new trains, including:

•      Lucchini (wheelsets, more information over the page)

•      Petards (passenger counter and driver reminder safety switches)

•      Balfour Beatty Rail (UGMS)

•      LPA (interior lighting)

•      Knorr-Bremse (braking and other systems)

•      NSK (axle bearings)

•      MTU Friedrichshafen (rail engines and maintenance services)

•      Televic Rail (passenger information and seat reservation)

•      Nomad Digital (on-board servers)

•      H&S (TOC antennas)

•      Arrowale (driver safety devices)

•      Siemens (GSM-R equipment)

•      Deliner (coupler and gangway)

•      BMAC (exterior lighting)

•      Thales (TPWS/AWS and APC-Receiver)

•      Unipart (track circuit actuator)

•      Johnson Security (fuel tank)

•      Eminox (exhaust system)

•      Romag (side windows)

•      Breckneil Willis (pantograph)

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email [email protected]


Henry Law   16/08/2014 at 00:17

No criticism of the design consultant but airline style seat layouts create a stack of problems, including misalignment with windows, people travelling in groups cannot sit together, no luggage space between seat backs (where passengers can keep an eye on their property) and heavier seats.

Will M   07/03/2015 at 09:54

Why aren't the seats lined up with the windows?

Will M   07/03/2015 at 10:28

Also, would it be possible to have more subtle lighting? Based on the above image it seems the designers are looking to continue the trend of making train carriages like operating theatres. Gob forbid anyone should want to relax, enjoy the views or perhaps take forty winks.

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