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First orders AT300s for ECML open access operation

Five five-car Hitachi AT300s have been ordered by FirstGroup for new open access services between London and Edinburgh that will begin in Autumn 2021.

The new trains will be financed by Beacon Rail, with the deal worth some £100 million.

FirstGroup has secured access rights for the open access service and claims it wants to attract passengers from the air onto the rails. It says two-thirds of journeys between the capitals are made by plane.

The open access operator plans to offer an average fare of less than £25 and the new trains will offer free WiFi and on-board catering. There will be one ‘high quality’ class of travel.

The trains will be electric sets as per the LNER Class 801s, but unlike those units, they will have batteries to keep on-board services running in the event of a failure or de-wirement. The batteries cannot power the train and there will be no diesel engines to provide ‘last mile’ or rescue capability.

“There’s a real gap in the market for truly affordable rail travel between the two capitals,” said Steve Montgomery, First Rail’s Managing Director.

  • For the FULL story, read RAIL 876, published on April 10, and available digitally on Android, iPad and Kindle from April 6.

     

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