Great Western Railway’s brand new Intercity Express Train carried passengers for the first time today, marking the next stage in the biggest fleet upgrade on the Great Western in 40 years.
Providing more seats, more frequent trains, and faster, more comfortable journeys the Hitachi built Class 800 Intercity Express Train came into service this morning with trains 800005 and 800006 forming the 10-carriage service operating the 0600 from Bristol Temple Meads to London Paddington.
The new trains have up to 24% more seating capacity than the High Speed Train they replace; increased legroom and luggage space, and more tables. A new timetable will be introduced once Network Rail’s electrification programme has been completed in early 2019, adding 40% more seats than today and providing quicker, more frequent journeys.
The new Class 800, 10-carriage train has been built in Britain by Hitachi. Two further five carriage trains (800008 and 800009) ran as a second ten carriage service, the 0700 from London Paddington to Bristol Temple Meads. This Intercity Express Train also went on to form the 1145 from London Paddington to Swansea - the first IET to South Wales.
The trains will benefit from Network Rail’s route modernisation programme with electrification already delivered to Maidenhead; congestion-busting upgrades to the railway such as a dive under at Acton to take freight traffic off the mainline; improved stations with longer platforms and transformation of signalling, and track to help improve journeys for passengers.
GWR Managing Director Mark Hopwood said:
“Today, we at GWR are once again making history, as we launch the first new Intercity Express Train in a generation – and continue to transform rail services across the region.
“After much hard work across the rail industry, I am delighted our first IET has successfully completed its first journey in passenger service. During the next year we will continue to expand the operation of these new trains across the South West and Wales as far as Swansea, including the introduction of another IET fleet specific to Devon and Cornwall next year.
“The new trains, alongside our new Electrostar fleet for London and the Thames Valley, will bring about a step change in passenger transport – delivering more seats, and enabling us to operate more frequent and faster services.”
Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling, said:
“I am delighted to see the first of the new fleet of Intercity Express trains come into service to give Great Western passengers faster, more comfortable trains and better journeys.
“The roll-out of these new trains on the Great Western Main Line and the East Coast line shows our commitment to putting passengers at the heart of everything that we do.
“This state-of-the-art £5.7bn train fleet will go on to serve passengers from Aberdeen to Swansea, York to London. This is part of a record £40bn investment to transform our railway and deliver better journeys for passengers.”
Hitachi Rail Europe Managing Director Karen Boswell said:
“We are really proud to have built trains in the UK, designed using Japanese bullet train technology, that are improving passengers’ journeys on the Great Western route.
"Nine years of hard work has gone into making today happen, from creating a brand new factory and workforce, to establishing modern maintenance facilities from Swansea to London. We’ve delivered pioneering 21st century trains for passengers to enjoy and sparked a manufacturing renaissance in the North East.”
Network Rail’s Route Managing Director Western, Mark Langman said:
“I am delighted to welcome GWR’s fantastic new trains. This is another major step forward in the biggest ever transformation on the Great Western Mainline as we deliver more trains, more seats and better journeys for communities across the route.
“It has been a real team effort as Network Rail and GWR staff worked tirelessly to get to this stage. It is an example of track and train working together for the benefit of the passenger and really does herald an exciting time for the railway.
“The hard work does not stop here as there is still much more to do all across the route. However, that means there are more exciting days to come with more services in Devon and Cornwall, electrification to Cardiff and Chippenham and the introduction of new Electrostar services between Didcot and London Paddington.”
The 0600 departed from Bristol Temple Meads this morning to fireworks, and GWR green spotlights lighting the sky. It was driven by Colin Franklin, a GWR train driver of 19 years.
The new trains will operate initially between South Wales and London Paddington, and between Bristol Temple Meads and London Paddington. As more of the trains are introduced, the new trains will extend to Taunton, and Hereford via Oxford by December, and to Cheltenham by next summer.
The trains are being built at Hitachi’s purpose-built £82 million factory in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, by a newly recruited workforce that is over 1,000 strong.
Next year GWR will extend the fleet to serve Devon & Cornwall. A further 36 Intercity Express Trains – (known as Class 802s) has also been ordered from Hitachi to improve services between London Paddington and Exeter, Plymouth and Penzance. These trains are being built to cope with the more demanding geography of Devon and Cornwall and are due in passenger service next summer.
In total Hitachi will deliver 36 x 5 carriage and 21 x 9 carriage Class 800 trains, and 22 x 5 carriage and 14 x 9 carriage Class 802 trains, with the full fleet due in service by December 2018. A significant timetable change in January 2019 will realise the full capacity and frequency benefits the new trains will bring with journey times from Bristol slashed by up to 17 minutes, and by up to 14 minutes from Swansea.
The IETs operate using bi-mode technology, allowing trains to use both diesel and electric power, which is allowing passengers to benefit from the new trains from today.
The Government-led Intercity Express Programme, funded by Agility Trains, brought together Hitachi Rail, GWR, VTEC and Network Rail to design, develop and build the new class of state-of-the-art, modern trains and supporting depot infrastructure for the Great Western and East Coast routes.
Martin Garrett, CEO Agility Trains, said:
“We are delighted to see the Hitachi-built IEP trains entering service with GWR. This represents the first step in Agility’s multi-billion pound investment in new fleets for the Great Western and East Coast mainlines, which will bring improved reliability, more seats, more comfort and shorter journey times for passengers.”
Alongside new class 387 Electrostar trains operating commuter routes in London and the Thames Valley the IETs will reduce GWR’s fleet age by more than half, and will help create 9,000 additional seats every day into London Paddington.
West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles, said:
“More trains, more seats and quicker journeys is fantastic news, and will make a big difference to our residents and businesses. This supports our work to get the region moving, investing in key routes and looking at how we can get people out of their cars and using alternative modes of transport. The new Hitachi Rail regional maintenance centre in Stoke Gifford is also providing great new employment opportunities for our residents.”
About First Group
FirstGroup plc is the leading transport operator in the UK and North America and our services help to create strong, vibrant and sustainable local economies. During the last year around 2.4 billion people relied on us to get to work, to education, to visit family and friends and much more and, each day, every one of our 110,000 employees works hard to deliver vitally important services for our passengers.
About Great Western Railway (GWR)
Great Western Railway (GWR) provides high speed, commuter, regional and branch line train services. We help over 100 million passengers reach their destinations every year - across South Wales, the West Country, the Cotswolds, and large parts of Southern England.
We’re currently seeing the biggest investment in the network since Brunel which will help deliver more trains, more seats, and shorter, more frequent journeys and continue the network’s heritage of helping connect more businesses to new and prosperous markets.
GWR is a FirstGroup company.
About Hitachi Rail Europe
Hitachi Rail Europe is a global transport specialist with over 100 years of experience building pioneering trains, offering quality maintenance and developing innovative new technology. We are leading the modernisation of rail in the UK to improve transport for passengers, communities and the country’s economy.
Having delivered the hugely popular Javelin HS1 fleet before the 2012 London Olympics, Hitachi secured major orders for new trains from across the country. The first wave of new trains, which are built in a new factory in County Durham, will start running this year, as part of the £5.7bn Intercity Express Programme. By 2021, 281 modern Hitachi-built trains will transport people up-and-down the country. They will be maintained and supported by a team more than 2,000 strong, based out of 15 locations. With a proud reputation for innovation, Hitachi is at the forefront of using new digital technology to enhance passenger experience and make the best of the railway’s rich heritage.
Agility Trains has been established to work in partnership with the Department for Transport in developing the Intercity Express Programme (IEP) to replace Britain’s ageing fleet of Intercity trains. Agility Trains West, which is funding the fleet entering service with GWR, consists of Hitachi Rail Europe (70%), John Laing Group (24%) and John Laing Infrastructure Fund (6%). For more information visit www.agilitytrains.com.