The first IEP train, that will replace ageing HST trains in the UK, has arrived from Japan.It will be used as a test train by staff on the rail network from April.
The 122 trains, which are longer and faster than those currently in service, are expected to start carrying passengers in 2017.
Produced by Hitachi for the Intercity Express Programme, the trains will be used on Great Western and East Coast lines. They are capable of running at up to 140mph (225kmph).
The five-car electro-diesel trainset left Hitachi’s Kasado factory in Japan on January 7th. It was shipped from the port of Kobe on January 22/23, travelling to Britain via the Panama Canal on the Wallenius Wilhelmsen ro-ro ship Tamerlane which arrived in Southampton on March 11.
Of the trains ordered, 12 are being manufactured in Kudamatsu City and shipped over. The remaining trains will be constructed in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham.
A new train is arriving from Japan with big shoes to fill. The train that has just arrived in the UK is an early prototype Hitachi Class 800 Super Express.
Over the next few years, 122 of these hi-tech trains will be assembled at a new plant in County Durham. All will be electric and almost half will be able to switch between running on overhead wires or - where a line has not been electrified - as diesels.
The first trains will run on the Great Western main line from 2017 and the East Coast main line from 2018.
Rail writer Christian Wolmar says the new Hitachi will be the standard UK train over the coming decades. "It is due to become the 747 of the railways."
Under the Intercity Express Programme (IEP), the Department for Transport in 2011 awarded a £5.7bn contract to Agility Trains, a consortium of Hitachi and infrastructure investor John Laing.
A BBC video report can be seen here and a further news report here
Hitachi and Abellio have just signed a contract for the provision and maintenance of 70 new AT200 EMU trains. A total of 70 trains will be built by Hitachi for the ScotRail franchise in a deal signed with Abellio, with 63 to be manufactured at the flagship Hitachi Rail Europe County Durham facility.
Hitachi was announced as the preferred bidder for the train deal last October when Dutch operator Abellio won the franchise.
In all, 46 three-car and 24 four-car AT200 EMU trains are being procured to operate along the Edinburgh-Glasgow and Stirling – Alloa –Dunblane lines, and will go into service in late 2017.