British Great Western Railways (GWR) is going through a largest electrification project in UK which will see replacement of diesel trains with overhead Electric Units , developed in phased programme. As the programme was spanning over a decade , GWR decided to procure British Class 802 (based on Hitachi’s AT300 series) which is a bi-mode trains. Bi-mode trains are trains with a dual electric and diesel propulsion capability.The trains can run on electrified routes using the catenary as power source, allowing for a smooth transition to non-electrified routes, where diesel powerpacks provide tractive power.



In June 2016, First set of new fleet of Hitachi class 800 inter-city trains carried out  an inaugural trip on a bi-mode set from Reading to London Paddington. The launch coincided with the 175th anniversary of the completion of the Great Western Main Line (GWML) from London Paddington to Bristol and is a milestone in Network Rail’s modernisation of the route.

Earlier , Hitachi Italy received the first bodyshell for Great Western Railways fleet of Class 802 bi-mode trains, being built at its Pistoia factory in Italy. The Passengers travelling towards Devon and Cornwall are one step closer to experiencing the new trains as Hitachi Rail’s Italian factory received the first bodyshells from Japan to start work.

The order supplements the Department for Transport’s Inter-city Express (IEP) procurement of 57 Class 800 trains and will be used primarily on services between London and the West Country. As part of the IEP, Network Rail will deliver infrastructure changes and Agility Trains (a consortium of Hitachi Rail Europe and John Laing Investments) as the Train Service Provider will deliver the Hitachi-made, Hitachi-maintained trains into passenger service each day.

A total of 22×5-car and 14×9-car units has been ordered, and the fleet will be phased into passenger service from summer 2018, with the final train entering service in 2019.With the electrification of the GWML suffering significant delays, the DfT revised the specification for the Great Western IEP fleet earlier this year. In contrast, all of the electric trains will now be supplied as bi-mode class 802 sets.

Mark Hopwood, managing director at Great Western Railways, said: “This marks another significant step towards delivering new trains, more seats, more frequent services and quicker journeys; and a step change in passenger experience on the Great Western.

The majority of the ‘802’ order was placed by GWR in 2015 as part of its direct award franchise, and the fleet is being financed by Eversholt Rail. An additional seven nine-car units were added to the order in 2016 for services between London and Oxford/Bedwyn as a result of delays to the electrification programme on the Great Western route. Three test trains (two five-car units and one nine-car unit) are due to arrive in Southampton from this summer to begin testing on coastal stretches; during this time the fleet will based at Hitachi’s Stoke Gifford depot in Bristol. The first newly-built train to arrive from Italy will reach the UK in winter 2017.

About the Intercity Express Programme

The Intercity Express Programme (IEP) will provide the infrastructure, rolling stock and franchise changes needed to support growth and improvements on some of Britain’s busiest intercity rail routes.

The first IEP units to be built will be introduced on the Great Western Main Line from 2017 and on the East Coast Main Line from 2018.

Additional benefits of IEP include:

  • more comfortable journeys with increased leg room, better wi-fi provision, more luggage and bike storage space
  • more accessible rail services because IEP trains have improved accessibility for disabled passengers, who have had significant input into the train design
  • greener journeys because electric IEP trains will emit over 40% less CO2 per passenger km than the HST trains they replace, making them more environmentally friendly


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