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Hitachi wins £350million order for new West Coast trains

HITACHI’S Newton Aycliffe factory will deliver a new fleet of 23 trains for Avanti West Coast in 2022. 

The completion of Intercity Express Programme (IEP) and ScotRail Class 385 EMU orders are on the horizon, and the £350million deal is a further boost for the County Durham facility after securing the contract to supply bi-mode trains to East Midlands Railway in August. 

Avanti has ordered 13 five-car bi-mode and 10 seven-car electric trains (135 vehicles) similar in design and specification to the Class 800 and 801s currently being delivered to LNER for East Coast Main Line services.

They will replace 20 Class 221 ‘Super Voyagers’ (Nos. 221101-118/142/143), allowing AWC to eliminate long-distance diesel working on electrified routes and expand services to more destinations off the 25kV AC network. 

Bi-mode sets will be used on the Chester, Holyhead, Shrewsbury, Llandudno and Wrexham/Gobowen routes, while the electric sets are destined for the Blackpool route and AWC’s planned Euston-West Midlands-Liverpool service. 

An artist’s impression of the AT300 trains in Avanti West Coast livery. 

Both types will be maintained by a joint Hitachi/Alstom team at Oxley depot in Wolverhampton. 

The bi-mode trains have an ability to operate for much of their journey in electric mode, and will reduce AWC’s carbon dioxide emissions by around 60% by 2022, as well as significantly reducing nitrogen oxide and particulate emissions because of more modern and cleaner diesel power packs. 

With 453 seats, the seven-car trains will have a capacity similar to a nine-car Class 390 because of longer, 26-metre vehicles. Each five-car set will have 301 seats, compared to the 258 of a Class 221. 

Better, more reliable wi-fi, at-seat wireless charging for mobile devices, plug sockets and USB charging points, a real time passenger information system, and improved catering are also promised. 

The trains are being financed by Rock Rail West Coast, a joint venture between Rock Rail and Aberdeen Standard Investments.

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