805001 at Preston as 5Q31 Glasgow Central to Oxley on 06/02/2023, the first ever test run.

New British-built Hitachi trains on trial with Avanti West Coast

805001 at Preston as 5Q31 Glasgow Central to Oxley on 06/02/2023, the first ever test run. Brad Joyce, 9 Coalport Drive, Stone, Staffs. ST15 0XU. Image Brad Joyce - Avanti West Coast media centre

Passenger operator Avanti West Coast has taken delivery of two units of their new British-built Hitachi trains. The designated class 805 sets have broken cover and made their first appearance on the West Coast Main Line. The landmark for the much-maligned company was achieved as the first newly built train made its inaugural test run on the line, where the class will displace the existing ‘Voyager’ diesel trains.

The first two trains have moved under their own power from Alstom’s Oxley depot in Wolverhampton, following two months of dynamic testing. The depot also works under a joint train maintenance agreement between Avanti and Hitachi Rail. The new fleet is anticipated to enter service on the West Coast Main Line later in 2023. Freight operator GBRf had delivered the trains from the factory to the depot in November.

Successful dynamic testing

The first of Avanti West Coast’s new fleet of Hitachi trains has made its first ever test run on the West Coast Main Line. The class 805 five-car bi-mode train, which can run under both electric and diesel power, undertook the 560-mile inaugural round trip from Alstom’s Oxley depot in Wolverhampton, from where the trains will be maintained after they enter service, running out of London Euston. They’ll be followed by seven-car all electric versions which will run all the way to Glasgow Central. The test run follows two months successful dynamic testing at Network Rail’s Rail Innovation and Development Centre (RIDC) at Melton Mowbray.

During their time in Leicestershire at the RIDC, the trains were shaken down for basic functionality, including the operation of the pantograph, which of course provides the connection to the overhead line equipment. For passenger operations, checks included the mobile Wi-Fi, onboard CCTV, coupling capabilities – when running as a pair – and the emergency lighting. Additional noise testing was undertaken both on the train and at lineside.

Hitachi sets already in operation

The two trains will now be put through their paces over the coming months, running up to their full line speed of 125 miles per hour (200 kilometres per hour), with a view to clocking up thousands of miles of fault-free running. “In addition, several new features for customers will be assessed”, say Avanti. “[This includes] improved passenger information, seat reservation system, multiple running and selective door opening, which allows the trains to call at stations with shorter platforms.”

Two Hitachi 805 bi-mode units at Oxley Depot Wolverhampton
Two Hitachi 805 bi-mode units at Oxley Depot Wolverhampton (Avanti West Coast)

The 805 series units are superficially identical to the Hitachi sets already in operation in other parts of the UK. “The new trains have certainly turned heads and the anticipation is building”, said Steve Whitewick, Head of Fleet Transition at Avanti West Coast. “It’s great to have the first two sets on the West Coast Main Line and we look forward to working with our partners to deliver a new fleet that will help deliver a step change in the travelling experience of our customers and colleagues.”

Big investment in sustainable travel

The other mainstay of the fleet, the iconic tilting Pendolinos will be around for a while yet. The new Hitachi trains are set to replace the company’s diesel-only ‘Voyager’ trains later this year on routes from London to the Midlands, Chester, North Wales and the North-West of England. The new 23-strong fleet is the result of a 350 million pound investment (416 million euro) in sustainable travel.

“Seeing British-built Avanti West Coast trains running on the West Coast Main Line is a massive step towards their entry into passenger service. Jim Brewin, Chief Director of UK and Ireland for Hitachi Rail said:
 Everyone at Hitachi’s North-East of England factory is proud to see the next generation intercity trains leave the production line. The 700 strong factory workforce are keen to keep the new trains coming so we can help improve connectivity between the North West, Midlands and North Wales.”

Further reading:

Author: Simon Walton

Simon Walton is UK correspondent for RailTech.com and Railfreight.com

1 comment op “New British-built Hitachi trains on trial with Avanti West Coast”

bönström bönström|15.02.23|13:15

Bi-mode, etc…, yes, robust (redundant) electrification, now is a must!
Now as well, just, the needed is a robust, a sustainable and a future proof (upgradable) track infrastructure…
Regrettably, simply neither currently sustainable – nor future…, infrastructure, basics…, has turned obstacle of Industry -and now devastatingly is plaguing society.
(All transport modes, now robust, those upgradable, etc., handsomely are rewarded, by willingly paying clients – and vice versa…

Add your comment

characters remaining.

Log in through one of the following social media partners to comment.