Posted 18th July 2013 | 25 Comments

DfT confirms second Intercity Express order

THE Department for Transport has confirmed a new order worth £1.2 billion for Hitachi Intercity Express trains, bringing the future fleet to a total of 866 Class 800 vehicles.

Hitachi Rail Europe will build 30 more nine-car electric sets at Newton Aycliffe in County Durham, and the additional order for 270 vehicles will allow the replacement in 2018-19 of the existing InterCity 225 sets, which include Mk4 coaches, on the East Coast Main Line.

The company said this represented a £82 million investment in manufacturing in the North East of England, and raised hopes that the UK would be able to compete for export orders in European markets.

Hitachi said the new fleets will be 'eco-friendly', saving 12 per cent energy and carbon when compared with the existing electric rolling stock.

Last year the Department for Transport agreed an initial order for 596 vehicles for the Great Western Main Line with Agility Trains, which is a consortium of Hitachi and John Laing. As well as building the new manufacturing site in County Durham, Hitachi is planning to build maintenance depots in Bristol, Swansea, west London and Doncaster, and also upgrade some existing depots

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: "By signing this deal we have provided further proof of our determination to transform Britain’s railways into a world-class operation through continued investment and state-of-the-art technology.

“This new order for Class 800 series trains is part of the Government’s commitment to invest in our nation’s infrastructure. This will not only deliver significant benefits to passengers by further slashing journey times and bolstering capacity, but will also stimulate economic growth through improved connectivity between some of Britain’s biggest cities.  This is good news for rail passengers and for British manufacturing.”

The news was welcomed by Alistair Dormer, who is executive chairman and CEO of Hitachi Rail Europe. He added: "This follow-on order marks the successful conclusion of the Intercity Express Programme procurement process. It represents a welcome boost for Hitachi Rail Europe’s train factory in County Durham with its 730 future employees and for the British supply chain. We have already signed contracts with a significant number of suppliers in the UK and Hitachi’s procurement team is in negotiations with many more, providing jobs throughout the UK engineering supply chain.

“We are committed to the long-term development of engineering capability in the North East and aim to repeat the success of Nissan and Toyota in the automotive industry by bringing world class practices to UK train manufacturing.”

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • Roshan Payapulli, Leeds

    Regarding HS2, there doesn't seem to be much alternative considering how British Rail starved the British railways of funding and improvements to its infrastructure*. It should have been doing what Japan were doing all along - continual incremental development. Perhaps then we would not need such a massive project as HS2.

    I was thinking that once HS2 has been built, as it runs parallel to the WCML and the Midlands Main Line, that these two lines could then be updated to allow the new trains to run at 225km/h. Maybe the Midlands Main Line could be extended to Leeds as well. The East Coast Main Line could be done in increments to avoid disruption, or maybe an HS2 line could be built parallel to it too. Just a few thoughts.

    (*As a matter of record, it was HM Treasury starving British Rail of funding for improvements which was the real issue.--Editor.)

  • Chris Burton, Cambridge

    One could say much about the IEp/SET order but I'll merely add that not replacing the HST diesel stock will exacerbate timetabling as the IEP will have much faster acceleration and, if allowed, higher (140 mph) maximum speed. Did anybody discuss this with Network Rail?

    But of course, it might suggest that running through services beyond Edinburgh has been abandoned, with agreement of Scottish Government, one hopes. If so where does this put services to Hull, Harrogate, Skipton and Bradford?

  • david c smith, milton keynes

    Chris Neville - Smith , many thanks for a constructive tesponse - my inpression is we probably share a lot of common thinking..

    I guess a basic theme in both the original IEP issue and this " resuscitated GC" idea is a scepticism about the increasingly dominant control of these sort of projects by DfT.

  • Chris Neville-Smith, Durham, England

    David C Smith.

    Most of my opinions are based on 1) poring over numerous primary sources available online, and 2) my observations of rail travel abroad.

    There are two particularly interesting observations about rail travel abroad. The first is that the mainline stations are usually massive compared to our London terminals. The second is that the high-speed trains do not require tunnels to get in and out of the capital - they just use the conventional tracks to the edge of the city and then go on to high-speed lines. As far as I can tell, the root cause is the absence of Beeching-esque policies on the continent. Whilst the UK was stupidly cutting back rail tracks to the bare minimum considered necessary to provide a service, most of the continent was building in spare tracks and platforms which they are making use of now. Had we followed the same policies between the 50s and 70s, we would not need to consider station expansion and tunnels now, the two most expensive bits of the HS2 plans.

    Going through your thoughts:

    a) I'm not fully sold on the Y-network idea myself. I do think it's important that the eastern side of England is not left out of any high-speed line, but I would have liked a better look at the idea of new lines for both the East Coast and West Coast corridors. However, none of this solves the issue of the overcrowding on the Euston corridor. That has to be addressed regardless of how we want future train services to reach Sheffield, Leeds or York.

    b) I would have actually given more consideration to the Chiltern idea. It's got a sort of advantage that you can add an extra pair of tracks without extensive tunnelling in Greater London, but then High Wycombe gets in the way and you'd probably have to build a £3bn tunnel there instead. Nevertheless, if you did the Chiltern Line upgrade properly, it would provide a faster and more frequent service to Birmingham, and release a bit of capacity on the WCML. But it wouldn't be cheap.

    c) Diverting trains away from a terminal can work - this is one of the ways that Crossrail is increasing capacity on the Paddington corridor, and it's how Crossrail 2 would relieve congestion on the Waterloo corridors if that goes ahead. Euston would be tricky though. I suppose that, at a push, you could send more LM trains long the Kensington branch, and build an interchange as it crosses over the GWML so that the LM trains then join the Crossrail route, but I'm not sure whether there's enough capacity on the GWML tracks to do this. You might have to extend the Crossrail tunnel to make this workable. Or you could maybe route Corssrail 2 to the Euston corridor instead of the less urgent Liverpool Street. However, the GWML has a lot of capacity constraints north of Euston and I'm not sure how much benefit this plans would have.

    You are right that there is little difference in speeds on the fast tracks between Euston and Tring, but sadly that's already gone. It's used by fast LM trains between Euston and Leighton Buzzard.

    All of these answers might be viable alternatives, but they're not cheap. I'd be more than happy to have a debate over this, but most HS2 antis don't. They don't want to discuss alternative solutions with considerable expense that might work. They'd rather peddle cheap and nasty solutions that most definitely don't work.

  • david c smith, milton keynes

    Yes, Chris, you may be right - I don't suppose any of we laypeople have a complete knowledge of the infrastructure constraints between Tring and Euston - I was just putting forward what appear to be possibilities, but I'm not in a position to make definitive judgements. Nevertheless, it does seem to me that

    (a) the capacity situation would be a lot easier if the present HS2 proposal to send 18 HS trains per hour on a single route northward from London, including to Yorkshire and Northeast England, on top of Bimingham and Manchester etc., were scrapped.
    Personally, my feeling is that an HS line would make more sense on an East Coasr alignment ( cheaper to build through flat, open country ). Birmingham and Manchester are both too near London for an HS service to make much difference - rail has the "lions' share" already on these routes, whereas Teesside, Tyneside, Edinburgh and Glasgow could gain far more benefit from HS service to London.

    (b) the Chiltrern route could be further developed to take pressure off the intensity of Birmingham - Euston service.

    (c) Another way to alleviate the capacity problem on the southern WCML i s by diverting some suburban (ac and dc) trains away from Euston ( into Crossrail, for example).

    Over the 25 or so miles Euston - Tring, there will be significantly less necessity for trains to overtake than over a full 80 miles of 4 tracks Euston - Rugby, meaning the 25-ish miles of 4 tracks can give somewhat more capacity than the full 80 miles.

    Tese are simply suggestions - I don't claim to have intimate knowledge of infrastructure to the north of London ( do any of us ?)

  • MikeB, Liverpool

    Additional capacity enhancements could include four-tracking north of Crewe - i.e. Winsford right through to Weaver Junction (to allow faster running for Liverpool and Warrington services) and then Wigan to Balshaw Lane.

  • Chris Neville-Smith, Durham, England

    david c smith, milton keynes

    "... and use the existing line down to Euston, with suitable capacity enhancement over this last 25 miles or so ..."

    May I ask what "suitable capacity enhancement" you have in mind? You might have noticed that the one thing that all proposals to upgrade the existing railways have in common (RP2, 51m, NEF etc.) is that not one of them proposes any upgrades south of the Ledburn Flyover. I'm happy to discuss reasons why this isn't so, but I'd suggest the obvious reason is that there aren't any options left. (Unless you want to suggest an extra pair of tracks in tunnel alongside the WCML under all six zones of Greater London, which is actually a reasonable alternative to HS2, but not on grounds of cost.)

    The problem with all of these ideas of "upgrading" is that, nine times out of ten, when people are challenged on what upgrade they propose, they don't answer. You can't just stick £100m in an upgrading machine that magically solves whatever capacity problem you have. There's only a finite number of trains you can stick on a four-track railways, and only a finite number of upgrades you can perform before further ones become useless. The West Coast Main Line south of Tring has already passed that point now.

  • david c smith, milton keynes

    As for the IEP - is this just another example of our "pretend privatisation" passenger railway where DfT are exerting more "command and control" ( in this case re procurement ) than they ever did with BR ?

    The idea of re-using the ex-GC route has a number of features. If capacity relief is the main need rather than ultra-high speed, then this route would seem an attractive option, wlth a largely ready built trackbed. The problems occur more at either end. At the northern end, it is quite true that a connection to WCML at Rugby is just not feasible, but from a point north of Catesby tunnel a new-build stretch could pass to the west of Rugby to join WCML just south of Nuneaton.

    The current ultra-high speed HS2 proposals involve a tunnel under the Chilterns and either demolition of parts of NW London or another tunnel underneath , these works making up a large part of the estimated costs. However, a" new GC" line that doesn't have to carry additional trains to Yorkshire / NorthEast could possibly cut across from north of Aylesbury to the north end of Tring cutting and use the existing line down to Euston, with suitable capacity enhancement over this last 25 miles or so - probanly a lot cheaper than present plans.

  • ACasali, UK

    If I'm not mistaken, the Mk4 coaches were built to a tilt profile: in the wake of the APT 'calamities' of the '80s, it was hoped that some coaching sets would later be retrofitted with tilt equipment to allow for higher speeds.

    Is this something we could see exploited in their future use? Surely if used with the right locos they could serve as relief sets for the WCML, although it's ironic that antiquated east coast stock could ever come to the rescue of a line which has seen such large amounts of investment, and all taking place within the older half of the Mk4s lifespan! All the more ironic that any future patrons might find the cascaded coaches a darn sight more comfortable than the 390s and 221s in use today!

    Although I suspect the age of the coaches may make retrofitting financially or logistically prohibitive - could anyone confirm? Not only that, but aside from the occasional relief set or Voyager replacement (I expect Virgin will want to keep as many 221s as possible due to their usefulness in times of diversion or wire trouble, plus they can be doubled or singled according to demand), I can't see tilting Mk4s having much of a case, especially since there'll be no provision for it on the MML by the looks of things...

  • MikeB, Liverpool

    Comments have recently appeared on news websites - from the uninformed - asking why these trains are not being built by a British company. Those who obviously know something about industry and railways have replied saying that the rolling stock supply industry is now in the hands of foreign-based multinationals. Ohers have said that, as these and future trains will be designed in Japan, Newton Aycliffe will just employ blue-collar workers to assemble the trains and all profits will disappear to Japan. Why has nobody from Hitachi Rail Europe countered this argument - is it because there will indeed be no design and high-tech work carried out anywhere in the UK?

  • Chris Neville-Smith, Durham

    But, Jack99, you've ignored my point completely. You are vastly underestimating the cost of the GCR idea.

    Four-tracking the Chiltern line was considered in rail packages 3 and 3A. Even if you disregard all the improvements beyond Ashendon junction, we're already looking at £6bn.

    Then there's laying all the new line. This is not a simple matter of sticking sleepers and rails on a track bed. You might get away with that for a freight line but certainly not a passenger line. One reference we can use here is the estimated cost of fully reinstating and electrifying the Leamside line to passenger standard (in Atkins Scenario C). That was about £800m for 20 miles, so for the 50 miles so of GCR we're reinstating we're looking at £2bn. That's already £8bn total. There's also the question of whether you've have to refurbish or replace any tunnels or viaducts along this route, but the Leamside reinstatement includes a viduct or two along the route, so let's assume the £2bn factors this in for now.

    And then we come to Rubgy. One look at GCR through Rugby on Google maps will show you the problem here. The GCR never connected the WCML - it went straight over on a bridge. Connecting this to the WCML would be a nightmare. Either you build a chord whilh involves rebuilding the southern station throat of Rugby Station and the demolition of a school, or you build a new bypass around Rugby so that you can build the junction at an easier spot. Either way, I'd be astonished if you could do that for less than £500m. Total £8.5 bn. And that assumes we avoid any of the hidden extras.

    For a start, the assumption made in Rail Package 3A that you can use Paddington is dubious. That was made before the extra trains from IEP were committed. So we could be looking at either an expensive expansion on the scale of Euston or a new terminal at Old Oak Common. I'd estimate we're looking as another £500m here. And this assumes the connections at Paddington (Circle/District/H&C, Crossrail and Bakerloo) cope with the extra numbers. Otherwise, the cost goes of the scale when you add in extra tube links.

    And what about the stretch through the Chilterns? Do you really think the Bucks crowd are suddenly going to drop their demands for tunnels just because the trains will go a bit slower? We could easily be looking at another tunnel here. The HIgh Wycombe one was £3bn, so we might be looking at another £3bn on the bill. Stick that on and we're up to £12bn. And what about the mitigation along the rest of the route? And remember, this is largely the same route as HS2 a lot of the way - the people along the route will expect their compensation and mitigation.

    Finally, don't forget the rolling stock. The 225s might get the line started, but they don't have that much life left in them. Besides, you introduce the problem of non-tilting rolling stock on a tilting line without the benefits of the high-speed route. Rolling stock costs are normally recouped through fares, but it's dubious whether you could do this for such a roundabout route.

    All these hidden costs need to be taken into account, and we are easily looking at a bill similar, or even higher, than HS2 phase 1. In which case, you may as well just build HS2 phase 1 and get the additional benefits of extra capacity in Birmingham and, yes, faster journeys.

    Yes, we do need to think very carefully about what we spend money on, but spending about the same amount of money on a worse solution doesn't solve the problem. Either we relieve congestion on the Euston line as vast expense or we don't. And the cost of not relieving congestion could be even more.

  • Terry Piper, Altrincham

    The frustrating thing with this is that the new trains are 9 coaches, why not 11 or 12 to allow for growth? We've already seen the expensive and not really effective extra coaches for the West Coast - the DoT need to think ahead and use recent experience to ensure that future trains are fit for purpose

  • George Davidson, Newport

    Rather than replace the 225's on the ECML, surely replacing the Voyagers (Virgin) on the Birmingham to Glasgow/ Edinburgh route should take priority? These Voyagers could then be put to work on non wired routes which are desperately short of diesel trains. For example, they could replace the Turbostars on Cross Country's Nottingham > Cardiff route or 158's on Cardiff > Portsmouth.

    This would allow a cascade that would upgrade unsuitable trains used on longhaul diesel routes. For example, Arriva Trains Wales use Class 150 Sprinters for Fishguard to Cheltenham whilst First Great Western use 150's for Cardiff > Plymouth.

  • jack99, Oxford

    In reply to Mr Chris Neville Smiths comments

    Firstly I would like to point out that I have nothing to do with the Anti HS2 lobby. If Britain has got 52 Billion GBP to spend which it patently has not ( National Debt now approaching 1.9 Trillion Pounds and rising each year - savage Austerity cuts have yet to happen - watch 2015 onwards when the cuts really begin to bite ) then yes HS2 and infrastructure developments such as Nuclear Power Stations are high on the Government wish list and are welcome developments if you can fund them. The payment of interest on the National Debt interest is now over 50 Billion GBP per year and rising.

    Secondly the whole raison d'etre for HS2 is Network Rails own admission that HS2 will relieve capacity south of Rugby which is where the bottleneck is. So by rebuilding the GCR and improving Ashendon Jn to London you get the extra capacity at a fraction of the 52 Billion plus ( and the rest ) that the HS2 will cost.

    Thirdly reusing existing alignments means environmentally you are not ripping up more swathes of this incredibly small island compared to geographically large countries such as France or Spain where land is less intensively developed, used and is cheaper.

    Fourthly are the journey time improvements with HS2 going to make real differences in companies shifting out of London / SE - I doubt it personally as IEP will bring journey times down in the next few years

  • Melvyn Windebank, Canvey Island, Essex

    Many ask where the trains will be deployed to ?

    Remember these trains are not multiple units but a engine pulling carriages so one use for these engines could be on electric freight trains on newly electrified lines !

    As for the carriages a new use may be found !

  • Chris Neville-Smith, Durham, England

    "Rebuild and electrify the Great Central railway from London to Rugby / Leicester"

    Oh no, not this one again.

    Yet again: how do you propose to run fast trains over the busy line to Aylesbury or High Wycombe? You have three choices:

    a) Axe lots of local services to make way for non-stop trains;
    b) Extend local stopping services on their existing pattern over the rest of the GCR, but abandon any hope of relieving the WCML, because there won't be a hope in hell of having a competitive journey time; or
    c) Carry out extensive four-tracking work on either the Aylesbury line or the Chiltern Line, which is doable and will probably give a viable new service, but will almost certainly cost at least £8 billion to do. So much for the tiny fraction.

    Alternatively, if you're so convinced you can do this for the price you suggest, produce me a service plan proving it. Everyone who I have challenged to do this so far has failed to deliver, so I can safely bet you won't either.

    Looks like StopHS2 really think they can flog this GCR idea as their new snake-oil cure.

  • jack99, Oxford

    Rebuild and electrify the Great Central railway from London to Rugby / Leicester and you could use the 91 plus coaches on that route - a fraction of the proposed 42 billion HS2 cost ( money the UK plc has not got ) using existing earthwork trackbed alignments with only the Brackley viaduct, new links at Rugby to the WCML and the MML at Leicester and 4 track Ashendon Junction to Northolt and hey presto a new main line relieving the WCML from Rugby to London and it would cost 1 Billion to do if that! Why nobody in Government is promoting this common sense low cost alternative to HS2 is beyond me.

  • Lutz, London

    I would not write them off yet; nearer the date there there is likely to be demand for at least part of the set, but operationally it makes sense to eliminate the heritage kit from the ECML principle services.

  • claydon william, Norwich Norfolk

    Very good question, what to use the 225's on after ECML duties ?

    London-Norwich is an eventual prime emu conversion route, and the MML will probably see electric power cars added to the 222's.

    IMO 'Pendolinos' would be ideal for the curvaceous MML route. Could yet see the 225's used on London-Birmingham duties.

  • claydon william, Norwich Norfolk

    Whilst undoubtedly excellent news for desperately needed engineering job prospects in the North East, in my opinion the Hitachi ICE is an expensive abject waste of public money, considering the existing 125 mph capable locos and carriages available 'off-the-peg' from existing manufacturers catalogues.

  • Melvyn Windebank, Canvey Island, Essex

    Lets hope the new trains get to run at their new top speed which I believe is the same as the trains they are replacing !

    As for new home for 225s well Great Eastern services out of Liverpool Street is one option as far as replacing older trains but major upgrades and even multi-tracking would be needed to make use of their higher speeds!

  • Tony Pearce, Reading

    Whats going to happen to the current East Coast stock ? Its not life-expired and I can't think of any line it could be cascaded to. I can't think of any foreign country that might want it either. Could it go temporarily to the GW to run a shuttle service from Reading to Paddington when the wires are completed ?

  • Tim, Devon

    Why are they replacing the 225s? Replacing one electric train with another seems a complete waste of money when other areas are going to remain diesel operated using the remaining 125s (Paddington->Penzance). Why not spend the extra money on fully replacing the 125 fleet?

  • Chris Neville-Smith, Durham, England

    Hmm ... as a resident of north-east England I'm not going to argue with this one. However, I'm not convinced this is the best priority. The electric Intercity 225s are okay, and I'm a lot more concerned about the state of the trains on the East Anglia Main Line, which looked in a pretty dire state the last time I tried their trains out.

    Anyone know the reason why priority has been given to replacing a fleet that's already electric?

  • c m wade, Grimsby

    Hmm well lets hope they are more comfortable to travel on and are less cramped than the Pendelinos and Voyagers. BTW. What are they goign to do with the Mk4 stock and Class 91's