Hitachi starts work on all-electric 803s for East Coast Trains

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Hitachi Rail has started work on building five new all-electric intercity trains for East Coast Trains at its Newton Aycliffe factory.

East Coast Trains
ECOA drive car (Image: Hitachi Rail)

Despite the impact of Covid-19, Hitachi Rail has prepared the factory and is now ready to start manufacturing the East Coast Trains.

Bringing train-making back to its birthplace

Douglas McIlroy, Communications Manager at Hitachi Rail, told The Engineer that this fleet is the largest manufacturing scope to date, with nearly all of the build taking place at Newton Aycliffe in County Durham.

The increased scope will see Hitachi’s workforce create the new fleet from empty aluminium shells.

“This marks a steady progression for the North East train builder,” McIlroy said via email. “The site began by installing the interiors and fitting undercarriages for the Intercity Express Programme trains, then expanded to include wiring for ScotRail’s Class 385s, and now will build the driver’s cabs from scratch.”

East Coast Trains
ECOA interior work (Image: Hitachi Rail)

Hitachi Rail are due to build more intercity orders this year, which will benefit from an £8.5m investment in welding and painting.

“The skills and techniques being utilised on these fleets is part of our upskilling programme and important steps as we expand our UK manufacturing capabilities and work towards welding and painting,” McIlroy said.

The five Class 803s will begin carrying passengers between Edinburgh and London from autumn 2021.

“We are delighted that these trains will be at the cutting-edge of low-emission rail transport, underlining the benefits of using our rail service for travel between the two capital cities,” said Helen Wylde, Managing director at East Coast Trains.

Hitachi Rail opened the £82m Newton Aycliffe manufacturing facility in 2015 to produce new class 800 InterCity Express (IEP) trains for the East Coast Main Line and Great Western Main Line as well as AT200 commuter trains for Scotland.