Great Western Railway (GWR) has unveiled the first of a fleet of new Hitachi built trains as part of a special journey celebrating 175 years to the day since the very first train ran on the line between Bristol and London.
The new Hitachi fleet is being introduced as part of the biggest investment on this railway since Brunel, including electrification of the Great Western Main Line. For the first time, guests have been invited to travel on the train.
The new trains will be manufactured at Hitachi’s £82m train assembling factory in Newton Aycliffe, and will include more seats, greater legroom, free Wi-Fi, power sockets at each seat, LCD seat reservation indicators and increased space in overhead luggage racks.
The trains start to be introduced into passenger service from next summer on the Great Western Main Line, and from 2018 on services between London and Devon and Cornwall.
Hitachi Rail Europe projects director Andy Rogers said: “We’re extremely proud to be delivering brand new intercity trains to GWR and to be creating some 730 new jobs at our rail vehicle manufacturing facility at Newton Aycliffe, an area with a rich railway history of its own.
“The brand new fleet of Hitachi trains that enter into service from mid-2017 will transform passengers’ experience to and from the South West and bring significant benefits to people and communities along one of the UK’s most important railway lines.
“Hitachi is, therefore, delighted to be showcasing one of its brand new Intercity Express Programme (IEP) trains as part of today’s celebration.”
To mark this significant investment milestone and to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the full opening of the line, GWR – in a shared event with Agility Trains, Hitachi Rail Europe and Network Rail and attended by Ministers from the Department for Transport – is inviting guests onto a special High Speed Train (HST) from Bristol to Reading to celebrate Brunel’s achievements.
Guests will travel through Box Tunnel, one of Brunel’s major engineering triumphs, which when built was the longest tunnel in the world.
Those on board will get off the HST train at Reading, where the Secretary of State for Transport will make a short speech, before boarding the brand new Class 800 (800 004) Intercity Express Train for Paddington.
GWR managing director Mark Hopwood added: “On this special anniversary we are looking not just back at our rich heritage but forward at a transformational investment programme.
“The new trains will result in more frequent and faster journeys and an increase in the number of seats.
“These, and a range of further passenger benefits, will enable communities and businesses across the Great Western network to prosper and we are delighted to invite observers to witness first-hand the step change electrification and our new fleet will bring.”
GWR’s modernisation programme will see the age of the entire train fleet slashed by more than half and three million additional seats a year created once electrification is complete.
The modernisation work by Network Rail will enhance 235 miles of what is one of Britain’s busiest and oldest railways, helping GWR better connect major towns and cities across the West, with faster, greener and quieter journeys.