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New Hitachi trains for West Country

Twenty-nine AT300 trains built by Hitachi in Japan will enter traffic in the UK from May 2018.

The £360 million fleet is being funded by Eversholt Rail Group, and will be used on services from London Paddington to the far South West, including Exeter, Plymouth and Penzance.

Deliveries will begin in the summer of 2017, when testing will begin.

The fleet is formed of seven nine-car trains and 22 five-car bi-mode trains that will allow for flexible use, including ten-car formations (two five-cars coupled together) for through services to and from the capital.

The trains will have up to 24% more seats compared with the majority of trains currently serving the route. This will equate to more than 1,000 additional peak-time seats into and out of Paddington every day.

The bi-mode trains will have the same MTU diesel engines as Hitachi’s Super Express Trains, but will be capable of delivering more power. The AT300 fleet will be able to operate with the Class 800/801s being delivered by Hitachi.

FGW put forward the plans for a new fleet as part of the deal for the new Great Western franchise, which begins in September and runs until April 2019.

“These new trains will make a real difference to millions of commuters, business travellers and tourists who use this route every year,” said Rail Minister Claire Perry at an event at London Paddington station today (July 30).

FGW Deputy Managing Director Andrew Mellors said: “We know how important the railway is to the economies and communities of the South West, and today's agreement is fantastic news for the region and the rail industry as a whole. These trains will help us deliver faster, more frequent services in the South West.”

  • For more on this story, including an interview with Rail Minister Claire Perry, read RAIL 781, published on August 19.

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  • Ben H - 07/08/2015 16:50

    If the AT300s (let's call them Class 802?) will utilise the same type of engines as the Class 800 (but fitted to more of the carriages), I think it would make sense to build these ahead of the already-planned Class 800/801. That way, the new trains would be able to run at full line speed on diesel power between London and Reading. If introduced to Exeter/Plymouth/Torquay/Penzance services, HSTs would be released without having to overwork the engines (to 125mph) on the Class 802s for longer than 35 miles (I.e. London to Reading) per 150 mile journey. Aside from the Great Western, I would prefer the less powerful (in diesel mode) Class 800s to be introduced to the East Coast initially, because they will be able to use already-existing overhead wires and run in electric mode for the majority of their journeys. East Coast HSTs would be cascaded to routes such as Cross Country (York-Birmingham-Bristol). Or even amend the project so that a greater proportion of the carriages per train set are fitted with diesel engines (i.e. AT300 / Class 802s). The severe delays to electrification work will otherwise handicap the Great Western network unless it retains the majority of its HSTs until the 2020s.

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