High-speed trains signalled for East Coast as first prototype arrives

The first InterCity ‘Super Express’ train has landed in the UK with a new generation of high-tech passenger trains set to run on East Coast lines by 2018.

Some 122 Japanese Hitachi Class 800 Super Express trains will replace the Intercity 125 models over the next few years after a multi-billion pound government investment.

An early prototype of the replacement model was unloaded at Southampton docks on Thursday, March 12 for testing, with the remainder of the fleet being assembled at a new £82 million plant in County Durham.

The Class 800 was built in Hitachi’s Kasado works in Japan and contains components from almost 30 uk-based suppliers.

The trains, which will all be electric, will first be installed on the Great Western main line in 2017, and the East Coast main line in 2018.

The new trains will bring faster services and additional capacity between London and major UK cities including Lincoln, Leeds, Newcastle and Edinburgh on the East Coast Main Line and Reading, Bristol and Cardiff along the Great Western Main Line.

The current Intercity 125 models reach top speeds of 125mph and have been in service since 1976. The Hitachi Class 800 reaches top speeds of 140mph, but will travel at a top speed of 125mph.

The Department for Transport in 2011 pledged £5.7 billion for its InterCity Express Programme (IEP), hoping to create thousands of jobs across Britain.

Rail Minister Claire Perry said: “It is hugely exciting to witness the arrival of the first state-of-the-art IEP train on British soil.

“These trains will transform rail travel for passengers travelling between many of the great towns and cities of England, Scotland and Wales; provide a massive jobs boost for Britain and deliver billions of pounds of benefits for our economy.

“We are investing record amounts building a world-class railway that provides more seats, more services and better journeys.

“The IEP is also helping to secure long-term economic growth by creating hundreds of jobs and apprenticeships at Hitachi’s new factory in County Durham, as well as thousands more jobs across the UK supply chain.”