Passengers travelling towards Devon and Cornwall are one step closer to experiencing new trains as Hitachi Rail’s Italian factory receives bodyshells to start work.

Hitachi’s UK manufacturing facility has already built its first train for Great Western Railway (GWR), which is due into passenger service later this year.

The delivery of InterCity Express Trains to GWR will transform passenger experience for routes connecting London to Wales and the South West of England.

Modern trains for iconic route
From autumn 2017, the first wave of InterCity Express trains will run on the historic Great Western main line, connecting London to key UK cities including Reading, Bath, Bristol and Cardiff. Production of these trains is already underway at Newton Aycliffe, County Durham.

From 2018 a second wave of new trains will begin running as far south as Penzance along coastal routes in Devon and Cornwall. Work has started in Italy on these trains today.

The entire fleet of 93 trains will be in passenger service by the end of 2019.

The new fleet harnesses pioneering Japanese bullet train technology known for its quality and reliability. Passengers can expect more seats, better on-board facilities with the possibility of shorter journey times.

Passengers will also benefit from new on-board technology, including real-time journey updates and seat reservation screens.

The fleet is fitted with bi-mode technology, allowing trains to use diesel and electric power, meaning even whilst infrastructure modernisation takes place passengers can enjoy the benefits of the new trains.

The fleet’s design ensures it can withstand the region’s weather conditions, including routes along the Dawlish coast.

Building the new InterCity Express Train fleet
Hitachi is utilising manufacturing facilities in the UK and Italy to ensure the entire fleet is in passenger service by the end of 2019.

The first wave of new trains that passengers will experience is being built at Hitachi’s UK manufacturing facility at Newton Aycliffe, County Durham.

Meanwhile, work has now begun near Florence at Hitachi’s manufacturing facility in Pistoia, where the second wave of the fleet will be constructed. The trains that are built in Italy will predominately run on passenger services connecting London to Devon and Cornwall.

Mark Hopwood, Managing Director at Great Western Railways, said:
“Today marks another significant step towards delivering new trains, more seats, more frequent services and quicker journeys; and a step change in passenger experience on the Great Western.

“The first UK built Intercity Express Train rolled off the UK production plant last December for introduction in passenger service later this year, and it is great to see work on the fleet for Devon and Cornwall progress.”

Karen Boswell, Managing Director at Hitachi Rail Europe, said:
“Introducing a new bullet train inspired fleet to run along iconic stretches of British railway will be a truly historic moment.

“These new trains will transform passenger experiences, offering a truly 21st century experience with more seats and on-board technology. Additional luggage space and a smoother ride will increase comfort for longer journeys connecting distant parts of the country.

“To make sure passengers get the new trains as soon as possible Hitachi is using its factories in Italy and the North East of England, where our skills and expertise are entirely complementary.”

Notes on testing and manufacturing
Construction work beginning in Italy follows GWR’s decision in 2015 to extend their fleet size, allowing for new trains to reach Devon and Cornwall.

The fleet extension of 36 additional trains (22×5 cars and 14×9 cars) will be phased into passenger services from summer 2018, with the final train entering service in 2019.

Hitachi Rail Italy’s Pistoia facility will build this second wave of new trains.

In recent years Pistoia has become renowned for building industry leading trains, including very-high speed and regional trains for Italy such as the Frecciarossa (“Red Arrow”).

Three test trains (2 x 5 car, 1 x 9 car) from the fleet extension will arrive into Southampton port from summer 2017 to begin testing specific stretches of coastal track. HRE’s newly built depot at Stoke Gifford (Bristol) will maintain the trains during the test programme.

The first newly built train to arrive from Italy will be winter 2017.