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TransPennine and Hitachi sign deal for 19 bi-mode AT300s

Just one day ahead of the new franchise kicking off, First TransPennine Express (FTPE) has announced a contract deal with Hitachi Rail Europe for 19 new bi-mode trains.

The 95-carriage order, for the fleet of AT300 inter-city trains, has been financed by Angel Trains and will run at speeds of 125mph on both electric and diesel routes from December 2019.

Hitachi, which was awarded the contract after a “comprehensive” procurement process, will assemble the majority of carriages domestically in its manufacturing facility at Newton Aycliffe, where the IEP trains and ScotRail AT200s will be built.

The first trains will, however, still be built at its Kasado Works depot in Japan, as is also the case with its other British orders.

The Japanese company will also provide full service provision, including heavy maintenance, cleaning and stabling at its Carr (Doncaster) and Craigtentinny (Edinburgh) maintenance centres. Overnight stabling and servicing will be carried out at the Edge Hill, Heaton and York depots.

The five-car trains have “been designed with the customer in mind”. FirstGroup, the franchise’s sole owner from tomorrow (1 April), promises it will “completely remodel the experience of train travel in the north” and will be “the most advanced inter-city trains in the UK”.

According to FTPE, the AT300 fleet will be closely related to the Class 800 bi-mode trains being built for the IEP programme across the East Coast and Great Western main lines.

However, they will utilise higher engine operating power to cope with the gradients in the region. They will run as electric on the electrified network in the north, but are also equipped with bigger fuel tanks and brake resistors to cope with challenging terrain.

branded Hitachi

Each of the new trains will provide another 161 seats compared to the average Class 185. However, TPE has announced it will retain around half of its Class 185 fleet, with all undergoing a £20m refurbishment programme, including improvements to catering, first and standard class, modern customer information systems, free wi-fi and entertainment servers.

Leo Goodwin, FTPE’s managing director designated, said: “These brand new state of the art Hitachi trains will lead to significant improvements in seating, capacity and provide a more reliable and efficient service. These trains will be able to run at speeds of 125mph but they also have the capability of running at 140mph if the network allows for it in the future.

“These speeds will reduce journey times across our network, bringing our great towns and cities in the North closer together. The overall comfort and experience will also be enhanced with more entertainment options, free wi-fi, better catering and real-time information systems.  Hitachi is a reliable train manufacturer with a great reputation.”

Karen Boswell, Hitachi Rail Europe’s managing director, said the company, which already has its order books full in the UK, is “thrilled” to be delivering the new fleet.

The new franchise, which will come entirely under FirstGroup’s control, will eventually deliver 44 new trains, as previously reported by RTM. A deal for the procurement of the remaining 25 trains is expected to be finalised and announced soon, with the first of these delivered in spring 2018.

As per the franchise agreement, the trains will include free unlimited wi-fi, allowing customers to stream movies and TV on mobile devices. They will also be air-conditioned, boast extra space for luggage and provide power sockets at every seat.

Cllr Liam Robinson, chair of Rail North, who will co-manage the delivery of the franchise under devolution terms, said: “This brand new inter-city rolling stock is a major step to transforming services across these routes, linking together the major economic centres of the North. It’s great to see that passengers will benefit from more seats and more modern trains on longer journeys.”

Today’s announcement is just the first of more rolling stock contracts yet to be signed as part of the new TPE franchise. It comes over three months after Northern, who is also starting a new franchise tomorrow, announced a £490m contract order with Spain’s CAF to replace the unpopular Pacers.


Andrew G   31/03/2016 at 20:28

I think it will be classed as Class 802/3.

Douglas   01/04/2016 at 11:34

Excuse my ignorance, but is there no UK manufacturer of similar units or are they inferior or just uncompetitive? It seems that whenever a big news campaign advertises the purchase of new units the manufacturer always appears to be outwith the UK. Are we producing anything?

Pedr Jarvis   01/04/2016 at 11:57

I hope they do not have those confounded airline seats which are so disagreeable. At least one railway manufacturer in these islands provides ' a window at every seat', though I do not suppose they would tackle an order of this size.

Matt Whyndham   01/04/2016 at 11:58

It depends who you think of as "we". Hitachi Rail Europe will construct these particular things in the UK, with UK workers, so not wholly "outwith the UK". Bombardier has UK production operations (Derby works). Siemens, AFAIK, does not.

Mikeb   01/04/2016 at 15:52

@Douglas. Since the demise of British Rail Engineering Ltd, there have been no major British-owned train builders. Hitachi and Bombardier are foreign-based multinationals (Japanese and Canadian respectively), both with assembly plants in the UK. Also, there is talk that French-owned Alstom is giving consideration to re-establishing a train building factory in the UK but a final decision on where and when is awaited.

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