Inter-city rail operator's £350m new trains fleet to be be built in UK

Avanti is taking over the West Coast main line from Virgin
Avanti is taking over the West Coast main line from Virgin

First Trenitalia, whose new Avanti West Coast rail service starts on Sunday, has today awarded a contract worth more than £350m to Hitachi Rail to provide and maintain 23 new intercity trains to be built at its County Durham factory.

Bringing additional capacity to services along the West Coast Main Line and in North Wales, these new, state of the art intercity trains will start operating in 2022.

The trains will be a mix of ten seven-carriage electric trains and 13 five-carriage bi-mode trains, with the ability to switch seamlessly between electric and diesel power.

The electric trains will operate through Lancashire between London, the West Midlands and Liverpool while the bi-mode version will serve the London to North Wales route.

They will be part of the fleet operated by the new intercity operator, to be known as Avanti West Coast, that begins operation thsi weekend succeeding Virgin.

The new trains will be built at Hitachi’s factory at Newton Aycliffe in north-east England, supporting thousands of jobs across the country.

Hitachi Rail prioritises UK suppliers whenever possible, including with servicing and maintenance operations.

Commenting on the new trains contract, Steve Montgomery, Managing Director, First Rail, said: “We look forward to beginning our Avanti West Coast services on Sunday 8 December, and these new trains will help us really improve travel for passengers with more services, more seats, a better journey experience, enhanced catering and added comfort.”

The contract announced today also includes an agreement for aspects of the 23 new trains to be maintained by Hitachi Rail.

First Trenitalia has also signed a Maintenance Agreement with Alstom enabling the fleet to be maintained by a joint team from Hitachi and Alstom at the existing Oxley depot in Wolverhampton, supporting highly-skilled engineering jobs.