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Coming up in the April issue of The RM: First Group’s open access plans move forward

FIRST GROUP’S aspiration to run open access services on the East Coast Main Line from Edinburgh to London took a big step forward when an order for five Hitachi AT300 trains was confirmed.

The services will begin in autumn 2021. 

The Class 802 electric-only trains will be worth £100million and are being financed by Beacon Rail, with Hitachi maintaining the sets for 10 years. 

First has spent four years developing plans since applying for approval in 2015, which was given in April 2016. 

Key to First’s plans will be average fares of £25, with one class of seating, free wi-fi and on-board catering.

First Group’s open access operation will use Hitachi trains similar to the Class 802s currently on test with sister company TransPennine. On March 20, bi-mode TPE set No. 802202 makes its first daylight working over the Pennines from Neville Hill to Edge Hill depot, and is seen passing the site of Longwood & Milnsbridge station. DAVID RODGERS

Five trains a day are planned, calling at Morpeth, Newcastle and Stevenage, with a target journey time of four hours. 

First is aiming for the first London departure arriving in Edinburgh by 10.00, and is clearly hoping to win over air travellers. 

First Rail managing director Steve Montgomery said: “We’re excited to announce the next step to providing our high-quality, low-fare service for customers linking London and Edinburgh.

“There’s a real gap in the market for truly affordable rail travel between the two capitals and we are serious about competing with low-cost airlines. 

“The new trains will provide the highest level of comfort and service.”

Read more News and Features in the April 2019 issue of The RM – on sale April 3!

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